Saturday, January 10, 2015

NFL Divisional Round

Baltimore +7 at New England: The main question for me in this game is whether or not the Patriots' perimeter threats can take advantage of the Ravens' corners. Rob Gronkowski is the best weapon in football, but he is likely to draw safety Will Hill, arguably the best member of Baltimore's secondary. New England's running game can keep defenses honest, and their secondary should be able to contain  Joe Flacco, despite his annual playoff transformation. Whoever is healthier between defensive end Chandler Jones and left tackle Eugene Monroe will of course impact Flacco, as well. Justin Forsett's consistent movement in the running game should help keep this game close, though, so I have to take the points in this mini-rivalry despite feeling the Pats will pull it out.

Carolina +12.5 at Seattle: Carolina's chances of winning in Seattle are slim, but they've played the defending champs tough of late. If they can get Jonathan Stewart consistently involved early, they'll have a chance since the running game is the best say to attack the Seahawks defense. The rejuvenation of the Panthers defense thanks to previously unknowns like Bene Benwikere should keep Russell Wilson's squad from running away with it.
Carolina needs to run well to protect Cam from rushers like Cliff Avril in obvious passing downs.

Green Bay -5.5 versus Dallas: The Cowboys' best shot is if they can establish their dominant running game early and comtrol time of possession so that the Packers have limited opportunities on offense. However, DeMarco Murray has only only averaged 3.8 yards per carry since he broke his hand after averaging 4.8 in his first 15 games (hat tip to Granted, 3 games is a small sample size, but if they can't keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline, he is going to expose the Dallas defense. I'm counting on the best big play receiver, Jordy Nelson, striking at least once, and Eddie Lacy's workhorse style being reward with a Lambeau Leap, as well.
Walden and Werner will need to be schemed into space.

Indianapolis +7 at Denver: What can I say: I can never lay this many points against Andrew Luck. Even if Boom Herron can't move the ball on the ground at all, you can never count out Luck leading a late comeback. If T.Y. Hilton gets lined up against Aqib Talib instead of Chris Harris, I like his chances of shaking loose for a big play, and both tight ends have good matchups against Denver's depleted linebacker core. Of course, all of this is moot if the Colts can't get a pass rush on Peyton Manning. Their corners can compete, but Manning will pick his old team apart if defensive coordinator Greg Manusky doesn't draw up some smart blitzes.

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