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Derek Vs. the Spread: Wild Card Weekend

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Peyton Manning and the Colts are in tough vs. the New York Jets.
By Derek LeBlanc

Hello everyone, it has been awhile since I have written anything for Haligonia Sports but with my favourite time of the year being the NFL playoffs, I decided to make picks for this postseason and so how well I really know my football and see how I do against the spread. With wild card weekend starting on Saturday afternoon we have no time for chit chat so let’s get to the point

New Orleans (-11) vs. Seattle

Saints-When it comes to the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks, this is the Saints game to lose. The two teams played against each other back in week 11 and we see that there offense is still powerful even thou they were plagued with injuries to running backs, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. Chris Ivory was good at times but he and Thomas have been put on IR so they will not play which leaves the rushing up to Bush and some carries for Juilias Jones. Drew Brees can still throw the ball and with all the targets around him like Marques Colston for example and had the numbers to show for it. The thing that would catch people by surprise is that the Saints defense was ranked 6th in yards per game and 3rd in pass defense. The Saints had a bad break or two and they are better than that 10-6 record indicates and can win big games like the Monday nighter in Atlanta.
Seahawks-When it comes to the Seahawks, I am reminded of the saying if you don’t have anything nice to say about them, don’t say anything at all. Anyone who watches football knows if they didn’t play in the NFC West that they would have been out of playoff contention by Thanksgiving. Their offense is ranked 28th in the league and are in the bottom 5 of rushing where is really the only chance they really have to beat them. We now know that Matt Hasselback will be starting but how healthy is he going into this game. While there offense is bad, the defense is not much better in which they were ranked 26th. Plus this team is young with really only Hasselback and secondary veteran Lawyer Malloy with major playoff experience coming off the top of my head. The only positives I see for them are there are the Seahawks fans (Known as the 12th man) were opponents find it hard to play in that stadium. Also they do have special team’s returner Leon Washington who was able to get 3 touchdowns this year after coming back from a broken fibula in week 7 last year while playing for the Jets.
Outcome-We seen what the Saints did to them in week 11 and I do not think it will not be much different the second time around. I expect the Saints to control the ball on offense and stop on defense and take the Seahawks to town and have no problem winning by more than there 11 point spread.

New York Jets vs. Indianapolis (-3)
Colts-Out of all the games to be matched up in the 1st round, The Indy Colts and New York Jets game is the hardest to pick. I think the only east bet is that it will be a close game between the two. With the Colts all you have to do is say the name Peyton Manning. When it is all said and done he will either have every record for a quarterback or will be in the top 3. The only thing with Peyton is for a couple of weeks he was looking more like his brother Eli. He had 11 picks between weeks 11-13 with all of them loses to the Patriots, Cowboys and Chargers. Exactly when you look at their records this season with teams that did 500 or better they ended up going 3-5. We also seen that without Joseph Addai that their running game was in worse shape than it was before but you can’t count their offense out as they ranked 4th in total yards with the injuries they had up front. The defense has also seen their share of hurt players with guys like Gary Brackett missing some time and Bob Sanders missing the season as well. There pass defense was ok but they have trouble stopping the run. They still have Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis up front so they can still get to the quarterback. With the team winning four straight to end the season and most of their starters back, you cannot afford to take the Colts lightly.
Jets- It has been a rollercoaster year for the team from Darrell Revis’s holdout, the harassing of a female reporter during a preseason game and the foot fetish videos of coach’s Rex Ryan’s wife. Still the Jets had a good season for the most part going 11-5. The defense was still there bread and butter going 3rd in both yards per game and rush defense and there pass d finishing in the top 10. There was a big loss on the secondary when safety Jim Leonard went out for the season but with Colts tight end Dallas Clark also gone for the year, Manning won’t be able to get the ball up the middle. On the offensive side, while we see some growth out of second year QB Mark Sanchez, near the end of the season he was having some troubles. Also with a bum shoulder they got to hope Sanchez can go 100% and be smarter like he was at the start of the year. The jets depend on their running game of Shawn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson which was solid this year. This is will the Jets will attack because the Colts are ranked 25th on rushing yards per game this year. There is also special team’s standout Brad Smith as well so there is that threat to add on. Basically the game lays on Mark Sanchez and the Jets receiving core to not to turn the ball over.

Outcome-While my mind says to take the safe bet is the Colts, I just can’t see it happening. Sure Manning can throw for 400 yards at any time, his offense as a hole is to banged up for the Jets defense not to take advantage of. I think the Jets can run the ball down the Colts throat and send them packing early.

Baltimore (-3) vs. Kansas City
Chiefs-I don’t anyone predicted that Kansas City Chiefs would make the playoffs but they are here and they are a team on the rise. We see that this team has a great run game with their three headed monster of Thomas Jones, Jamal Charles and Dexter McCluster. When seen improves from Matt Cassell and he now has a number one target in Dywane Bowe. They have young defense with some future stars in Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry. The only problem with them is even thou they won the AFC West, the only team they beat with a 500 record or better was against the Chargers in week 1. I think they can surprise this week because while they beat up on lesser teams, they still went 7-1 at home.
Ravens-When it comes to the Ravens, we all know that they are a defensive minded that can hit at will with their backbone of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. We did see in games thou against the Bills and Texans were the defense showed some signs of weakness and blow 4th quarter leads. They will still able to rank 10th overall in defense and 5ht against the run which can be a big help for them because the Chiefs depend on that run game. Besides there d, we have seen that there offense is improving ever since Joe Flacco has been taken the snaps. While I still find that he hasn’t got to the elite level yet he has been doing better each year and with the targets like Anquan Boldin. The heart and soul of the Ravens thou is the running game behind him. Ray Rice is the most underrated running back in the game, Willis McGahee is solid as a backup and they have the best fullback in the game in Le’ron McClain. I think the Ravens can surprise people this post season.

Outcome-When you look at it both teams are really similar. While the offense is the same the Ravens defense is better the Chiefs. It will be a good learning experience at Arrowhead for KC but they have another year or two before they can start causing problems for AFC teams.

Green Bay vs. Philadelphia (-3)
Green Bay-On paper it looked like the Green Bay Packers were going to be in playing in Dallas no problem at the start of the season. While things changed with injuries throughout the season, they are still a big threat in the NFC. We see that Aaron Rodgers is one of the top five qb’s in football and has all the cheese heads saying Brett who. Rodgers has great cannon and has reliable weapons in Donald Lee, Donald Driver, Jori Nelson and Greg Jennings. On the defense, while various players went down this season, the team was still able to ranked 5th in the league. Clay Matthews was able to avoid the sophomore slump and grab 13.5 sacks while battling a hamstring and they still have current defensive player of the year and former Heisman winner Charles Woodson. The only problem the Packers have that there is no running game this season. They lost Ryan Grant in the first game and had to put him on injured reserve and no one has been able to fill his void. The offensive line while better this year but they still need improvement as well as we seen with the running game suffering and the concussion that Rodgers took against the Redskins.
Eagles-After Donavan McNabb was traded in the offseason, no one thought that the Philadelphia Eagles would finish dead last in the always competitive NFC East. While I had predicted on the Bill McLean Sports show that the Eagles would surprise everyone I thought it was going to be done with Kevin Kolb taking the snaps instead we seen the rebirth of Michael Vick. While he has been able to run the ball he finally has something that he really didn’t with Atlanta, receivers to throw the ball too. He has solid guys like Jeremy McClain, Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson who is also a threat on kick and punt returns. They also have LeSean McCoy to run in the backfield and all those weapons made the Eagles the number two offense. They do not have a great defense thou but they are good enough to get the job done. They have top guys like Trent Cole and Asante Samuel who does have two super rings with the New England Patriots. They will be missing some key guys as secondary man Ellis Hobbs is gone for the season and maybe his career and linebacker Stewart Bradley out for the playoffs but with the Packers running game the way it is he won’t be missed this week anyways.
Outcome-While both teams are great and can easily win the NFC, there is one stat that makes the difference. Cam Stewart from The Score television network brought up that the Eagles secondary gave 31 receiving touchdowns this year, only ahead of the Houston Texans. I picked Green Bay at the start of the year to win it all and like Shania Twain said, You got to dance with the one the brought you. Packers +3.

Derek LeBlanc is a mixed martial arts reporter who writes for topmmanews.com. He resides in Halifax and can be reached at dleblanc@topmmanews.com

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