Another trend from the weekend - poor kicking. There were five missed field goals last weekend! Five! A lot of them were easy kicks too. And the culprits were some of the better kickers in the league. Are there any clutch kickers anymore? I mean, if you had to bet on a kicker making a game winning 40-yarder; how many players would you be confident in? Five? Three?
To start the weekend the Bengals put up a total stink bomb. In retrospect, I've thought for years Marvin Lewis is not a good coach, and he sucked it up last weekend. He was out of challenges - in the first quarter! That's incredible. What's his next plan, to use all the Bengals draft picks in March? Then on Sunday, Joe Flacco won a game with this stat line: 4-10 for 17 yards with one interception. The Patriots gave that game to the Ravens. I missed the first 10 minutes of the game and by the time I got to a TV, the game was essentially over.
The standout, albeit somewhat obvious stat from the weekend, was winning the turnover battle wins the game. The Pats had four turnovers to the Ravens one, Bengals had two turnovers to none, Packers had three turnovers to one, and the Eagles had four to one. So in summation the losing teams had a total of 13 turnovers, while the winning teams had three. It's likely that this weekend turnovers will tell the story again.
Last week: 1-3
Home team in CAPS
Cardinals (+7) over SAINTS Everyone has their hopes up for a repeat of Packers/Cardinals in this matchup, which means we'll likely be dealt a total dud in which both offenses completely disappear. Four weeks ago I would have said there would be no way the Saints could lose a playoff game at home, but this clearly hasn't been the same Saints team it was back then.
Ravens (+6.5) over COLTS
The Colts aren't very good against the run, so the Ravens will try to duplicate their game plan from last week, but if the Ravens beat the Colts by only completing four passes I'll buy everyone who reads this blog a car. I think the Colts will win this game, but I see it being close. Also close, who will get more camera time on the sidelines - Peyton Manning or Ray Lewis?
VIKINGS (-2.5) over Cowboys
The Cowboys are the hot team and the hot pick in the NFC. They played great the last few weeks and no doubt they could get to the Super Bowl. But everyone is acting as if the Vikings are the underdog and don't really have a great chance to win (even though they're favored). Don't forget, this Vikings team has not lost at home all season. They have been absolutely dominant at home since a close week six win over the Ravens. Adrian Peterson, despite not having a 100-yd game since week 10, will shine in the playoffs. Peterson only had three 100-yd games all season, but he found the end zone plenty, and will perform when called upon.
CHARGERS (-7) over Jets
About halfway through the second quarter of the Jets-Bengals game it was clear that whichever team won would lose the following week. Don't get caught up on the Jets beating the Bengals. Cincinnati could not have played much worse than they did. Another hot topic with this game is about how the Jets are good at stopping the pass and the Chargers are only good at passing. While this is true, I still believe the Jets don't have the offensive firepower to beat the Chargers. And if the Jets somehow win, I will pick against them next week.