Buehler's Divisional Round Picks


Buehler’s Divisional Round Picks

It’s funny. You go out on a limb and it’s not until the ground pounds you in the face that you realize, that limb was too thin and you shoulda stuck closer to what you knew.

Vegas was hammered this year because favorites did their job all season long. Week 9 was the worst week in many sports books’ history because NFL fans weren’t going out on those limbs like I did last week.

The only game I got right was the Packers-Vikings matchup. Other than that, I thought the Bengals could secure some semblance of a running attack to beat the Texans, they did not.

Thought the Skins’ Alfred Morris could help DC avoid the Wildcard Cliff. Shanahan left RG3 in too long and gave Morris 5 carries in the 2nd half. Brutal.

My Colts pick was all emotion. Wanted to see them win more than I thought the matchups favored the Horseshoe. 

The point is, I learned my lesson. I’m looking to bat 1.000 this week…

AFC Games

Ravens at Broncos

You’re going to hear a lot about the Ravens’ defense because Ray Lewis is set to retire and he’s spent the past 42* years building a reputation of irrefutable toughness.  *slight exaggeration

And you’re going to hear a lot about Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning because he’s pulling off the rare “Comeback POY” and MVP campaigns concurrently.

But this game is MORE about the Broncos defense and Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco.

The Ray Lewis led D and Manning will offer every reason to conclude we’re gifted by watching some of the greatest of all time. While Manning has led the Broncos to 5 more wins this season over last season, the defense has been equally impressive, coming in the top 5 in the NFL in passing D, rushing D, scoring D, and leading the NFL in getting off the field so their All-World QB can launch an aerial assault (translation: Broncos lead the NFL in allowing lowest 3rd down conversions).

Then there’s Flacco. Good ole’ Joe. Poor kid. Reminds me of the struggles of Eli Manning before we all decided you couldn’t spell Elite with ELI because he added elusive hardware. Thing is, while Flacco goes downfield more than any other QB in the NFL and has a better completion percentage with the long ball, that form of football is high risk and while Boldin provided the Ravens with their reward last week, it’s not going to work against the Broncos defense. Broncos win 31-10.

Texans at Patriots

JJ Watt is one of my favorite players to watch. He looks just like my baby brother and won the Lott IMPACT Trophy the first year I became a voter. I’d love to see the Texans win. Both teams are 10-1 against common opponents. The Pats went 1-3 against the NFC West, and added a loss to the Ravens while the Texans went 2-2 against the NFC North, and added losses to the Colts and Pats.  The Pats have a tough time against strong pass rushes while the Texans lost games to teams that use the big play.

We know about the Texans’ last trip to Foxboro. It was uglier than me with pink hair. But you can reference the Pats’ week 13 45-3 annihilation of the Jets in 2010 for apt perspective to offer Houston fans because the Jets followed that performance in the divisional round of the playoffs and took the Pats out 28-21, in Foxboro. So there’s hope Texan fans… Of course, Rex Ryan employed a new defensive strategy to handle the Pats and Jim Leonard was back for the Jets and spectacular in that game… but I digress…  

I’m trying to find reasons for a Houston win because I’d like to see it. But the Texans won’t get beaten as badly by the Pats, I just don’t see enough evidence to support an upset bid here. Pats win 28-21.

NFC Games

Seahawks at Falcons

Come Sunday, the Seahawks will have traveled more than 8500 miles in 7 days. Read that again. So that pounding running game is taking a pounding itself and this team will be TIRED come the 4th quarter when they are usually at their best. I have no idea why the team didn’t strategize better. So while the Falcons run defense is a liability, only 3 teams in the NFL give up more rushing touchdowns, I can’t see Seattle’s running game being at it’s best.

Chris Clemons being out is a significant drop off for the Hawks and as great, GREAT, as Russell Wilson has been in the post season and back stretch, no body can endure that kind of physical stress and be at their physical best against one of the NFL’s more elite offenses.  Falcons, the 1 seed, advance 30-14.

Packers at Niners

You know I’m a Niners fan. If Alex Smith were in this game, I’d take the Niners. But he’s not. So I can’t. While Kaepernick is a better weapon and certainly a more explosive athlete, it’s too much pressure to stick him in a head to head battle against Aaron Rodgers. Now, I realize he beat Drew Brees and Tom Brady head to head and on the road. The concern with Kaep is the Niners then want to throw more when he’s in. He’s 5-2 as a starter. His 5 wins: 28 or fewer pass attempts. His 2 losses: 30+ … If the Ninerst stick with the run, they’ll win the game. If Gore carries the ball more than Kaep attempts to throw, they’ll win. But if they don’t. Packers move on. I have a sinking feeling that the Niners will be forced to throw as the Packers can get hot fast. As painful as this is to type right now. Packers win 24-20.

I’ve never wanted to be more wrong than right now.