Bears -10, Patriots -9 are my picks, see why below.
Seahawks @ Bears -10 - Seattle had a nice upset last week, in case you haven’t heard. They are still not very good. Actually, I think the upset says more about how NOT good New Orleans was. Everybody thought they would turn it on and get into form and other than a handful of moments they never really had it this year. That is what happens with defending champs, they are fatigued and do not have the same energy as the previous year. In the end the injuries were just too many and Seattle played an inspired game to win.
This game will be a different animal.
- Seattle is on the road, Seattle sucks on the road.
- Forget the early season victory by Seattle, Chicago retooled their offensive line, and approach, during the bye rendering the early season performance of the offense meaningless.
- Both teams are bad in Yards Per Play offense, Chicago is better is yards allowed on defense.
- Chicago has an edge in Yards Per Point offense and defense.
- 3rd down conversion % is a push.
- Explosive plays(20+ yards) is about even on offense but Seattle gives up a lot more of these on defense, edge Chicago.
- The Kick Return game is even but Chicago has a strong edge in punt returns.
I do not trust Jay Cutler which is one reason why I did think about going with Seattle. The problem is Seattle is not very good, not very physical, on the road, and still a fluke in my mind. Chicago is catching the breaks this season and they catch another one here by not having to play an actual contender until next week. Chicago will overpower Seattle’s offensive line, get hits on Hasselback, and get turnovers. On offense I look for Matt Forte to cash in on the turnovers on the ground and through the air. Do not be surprised if the game is broke open on a punt return by Hester. If Seattle gets down by more than one score in this game it will be over and that is exactly what I expect to happen.
Jets @ Patriots -9- I would have went with the Jets with this pick if the Jets would shut the hell up. What is Cromartie thinking talking smack about Brady? You cannot be a championship team with too many guys like Cromartie on your team. Tons of ability but lacks toughness, takes plays off and you are not quite sure if his mind is actually devoted to the game or god knows what. Eventually, these guys are exposed at the wrong time.
I also am not a Mark Sanchez guy, in fact I think he sucks right now. He was horrid last week and that was in a dome against a passive defense. I do not like the Patriot defense, at all, but I am pretty sure Belichick can come up with a plan to slow down the run enough to force Sanchez to beat them. Sanchez cannot beat the Patriots.
- Sanchez is bad enough in good weather, he is downright crap in bad weather. FYI, Foxboro in January is not San Diego.
- The Jets can and will run, but Belichick knows this.
- Within the last week Rex Ryan and Cromartie have taken shots at Brady. WHY???
- Patriots have the edge in offense Yards Per Play, but give up that edge in Yards Per Play allowed on defense.
- The Patriots make this up with an astounding Yards Per Point of 11.4 which is tops in the divisional round by almost two yards. The Patriots Yards Per Point defense is actually quite good also giving them an edge.
- Explosive plays are a push, 3rd down conversion % is a push and special teams return yards is also a push.
A big reason why a lot of these stats above are a push is the Patriots defense. They are young and Belichick has simplified things. They will let you move down the field if you are patient but then come after you in the red zone. For a team to get touchdowns they will have to make some big throws and I do not see Sanchez making them. The Jets will move the ball but settle for field goals while the Patriots will be getting touchdowns. If the game gets to 14-6 New England or even 14-3 will the Jets stay patient?
I say no, the Jets will bring in the wildcat or do some other stupid stuff on offense. At some point there will be a turnover and the Patriots will stretch it out to a three score lead. Game Over.