24 Hours 'Til Sunday — Andy Richardson
Posted Jan. 05 at 05:31 AM
Four big games coming up, and they start in just 8 hours or so, not 24. I"m in a couple of different playoff challenges, including one where you pick a new lineup each week, and one where you select your entire roster prior to the start of the first weekend's games -- eight starters and six bench spots -- and hope your teams advance.
I did that latter one last year, and thought I was really clever filling my roster with Saints (who played in the first round) and Packers (who at 15-1 were the clear favorite). I'd have a full lineup through the championship game, and close to a full one in the Super Bowl. Naturally both teams were gone before the conference championship. This year I filled my roster with Packers and Broncos, getting Packers this week and Broncos the rest of the way. We'll see how that works out.
On to the games! I plan to watch as much as I can, but this is how they're going to go.
Bengals at Texans: Houston won last year by a large margin, but the game was close for a half, and Cincinnati is better now, while Houston has really slipped. Their defense is struggling, and their offense has been off. Cincinnati has a very good pass rush. I see this as more of a low-scoring game, with Cincinnati getting some points early and then getting after Matt Schaub. I'm not taking any players in this game because the winner, whoever it is, is off to Denver or New England to get smoked next week. I'll call it Bengals 23, Texans 17.
Vikings at Packers: I'd sort of like to see the Vikings pull the upset here, but I don't know how it's going to happen. Minnesota can't cover all of Green Bay's receivers, and I don't think Christian Ponder and the passing game has a chance to be as productive as it was in the home win last week. Adrian Peterson should be fine and Minnesota will probably even score some, but Green Bay scoring less than 30....I don't see it. I like Peterson, Cobb, and obviously Aaron Rodgers in this game, with the tight ends also good picks, Finley between the 20s and Rudolph as a scorer. But this looks like about a 38-21 win for Green Bay. Won't see much of it since we're hosting a child's birthday party and the TV will be tied up with The Avengers, but whatever -- these teams can't play a better game than they played last week anyway.
Colts at Ravens: If you listened to our playoffs podcast, you know I think the Ravens are going to win this game pretty handily. It's due primarily to Indianapolis' defense, which is poor, and the intangibles of the Ravens being at home and a very good playoff team; they can cause some problems for Andrew Luck and should be able to run all day. That said, I'm a believer in Luck and give him a puncher's chance if he plays out of his mind. Baltimore's defense isn't what it was, and the Colts have some big-play potential. I love Rice in this game, and think Luck and his receivers could be decent. Lukewarm on Ballard, especially with Delone Carter likely returning for the goal line duties he doesn't really deserve. I'm sure the Colts will show up, but I'm going about 27-17 Ravens.
Seahawks at Washington: This is the game I concede I have no idea how it's going to go. I think either one of these teams has the running game to go into Atlanta and win if they win here, and then, who knows? They could spring an upset in the Championship game, too. The NFC isn't very top-heavy (haven't the Giants proved that in recent years?), so the winner of this game could play for a while. It's why I'm favoring Patriots and Broncos, and simply avoiding this game entirely, because I just don't know what's going to happen. When in doubt, go with the home team, which should be able to run the ball some and have Robert Griffin III moving around and making plays. Of course, Seattle can do the same kinds of things, and their defense is better. Should be a classic, and I'll pick Washington 24-21, but I admit I'm just guessing.
Good luck with your playoff challenges, and enjoy the games.
Posted by Matt Mumford | Jan. 05 at 09:14 AM
Thanks Andy. I always appreciate your musings and insight. With Green Bay having gone out so early in two of the three times they've been here its sort of a crap shoot. At least it will be fun to watch!
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 05 at 10:00 AM
Andy: I agree with most of your thoughts on the games, although for some strange reason I think Houston can muster up enough to get by Cincy mainly because of how badly Dalton has been playing. I don't trust him to win a playoff game on the road. Regarding Denver, if you think they will win the AFC you almost have to pick Moreno. But reports are that McGahee, who is on IR/DFR, will return to practice next week. If deemed healthy, do you think there's any chance he gets his job back? Also, which defense(s) do you like this week under the two formats you are playing in? I like Houston or Baltimore under the weekly lineup format and GB under the other. Thanks much.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jan. 05 at 10:30 AM
Peter, my understanding is that McGahee will be eligible for the Championship game, not the Divisional Round. At that point I expect he would start, but it would be a shared workload with Moreno. That said, I don't know if returning to practice and being available mean he will be 100 percent. Bottom line, I think the worst case scenario for Moreno, if Denver makes the Super Bowl, is full-time next week and 50 percent of the workload in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl. Regarding Ds, I like the Ravens most this week, and I took Denver (and Prater) this week. I will take the zero this week and feel good about getting 2 or 3 weeks ultimately.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 05 at 08:33 PM
I hope one of those Packers you loaded up on was DuJuan Harris. That would give you a nice leg up on a lot of other owners. As far as their receivers go, it's hard to figure out which one(s) are gonna put up numbers from week to week, particularly when they're all healthy. And when DuJuan and the immortal Jon Kuhn score all the TD's, it's a total disaster.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jan. 06 at 03:44 AM
Peter, nice call on Dalton. We felt DuJuan Harris would be the guy, although I will be more optimistic about their receivers going forward. Harris was a little lucky to end up scoring last night. Rodgers, Jennings and I think Cobb (though it didn't happen yesterday)...those are the guys I have on my locked roster team, and I think it will be OK. (Should have had Foster, though...)
Posted by BEN HOGEVOLL | Jan. 06 at 09:02 AM
Andy I think G.B. has tried to run the ball all year which they did untill Benson got hurt.They then tried Green who has only averaged a little over 3 ypg and have finally settled with Harris who has just under 5 ypg.I dont think it was luck he scored and he should run and score some more through the ploayoffs not to forget his pass catching ability.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jan. 06 at 10:52 AM
It's not that Green Bay doesnt try to run, but they also use Kuhn, maybe Grant, and maybe even Starks a week from now. Harris is the lead guy, no question, but I don't think he will do much at San Fran. I thought Harris was lucky just because he was initially ruled short of the goal line, and I don't think Green Bay would have challenged it had the quarter not run out (giving them extra time to see a replay).
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 06 at 12:49 PM
Looks like he's the man. McCarthy talked him up big time after the game. If GB can last, this might be the beginning of a Starks like run two years ago. Or maybe he's the second coming of Ahman Green.
Posted by BEN HOGEVOLL | Jan. 07 at 08:53 AM
Peter,Thanks,you agree,Because of the run game led by Harris,Rogers only threw one td and was under 300 yards.I have Ryan in our playoffs and hope he throws 3 tds and 300 yards next week.It was neck and neck all season Rogers,Ryan.I hope the GB run game slow"s Rogers down a little.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jan. 09 at 09:12 AM
Harris carried 17 times for 47 yards, just 2.8 yards per carry. Rodgers was under 300 yards strictly because Minnesota's offense did effectively nothing for the vast majority of the game. I will not pin any hopes on Harris at San Fran this week.
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