New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts AFC Wild Card Weekend Prediction: The Jets were 11-5, 9-7 ATS, and won a huge game at Pittsburgh down the stretch to make sure they were headed to the playoffs. But they spent too much of the season milling around, barely beating Detroit, Clevealnd, Houston, etc. They just haven’t been a team that gets out there and dominates the game. They play a lot of close games and that’s not a good thing when going up against Peyton Manning.
The Jets have struggled against prolific passers this season, and Peyton has always found ways to beat good defenses.
The Colts were 10-6 and for the first time in forever, they weren’t assured a playoff spot heading into the final weekend. They needed to beat Tennessee, and while they did, it wasn’t as easy as it should have been. The Titans fell a field goal short, despite being brutal over the 2nd half of the season. The Colts finished with 5 straight wins after starting 6-6.
There’s nothing exciting about this pick, I just tend to gravitate towards Peyton Manning when the Colts are going up against a defense-dominated team – especially a team that needs to cheat and blitz to get any pressure at all.
The Colts were never great this season, and they sure had to fight and scratch to get in the playoffs in the first place, but it’s tough to see the Jets dominating this game, and it’s hard to bet against Peyton when the season is on the line. At home, as healthy as they’ve been in 10 games, the Colts should find a way to win by a field goal.
New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks NFC Wild Card Weekend Pick: Some numbers go against the Saints heading into Seattle for and NFC Wildcard game – some. Like the Hawks going 5-3 at home this season (compared to just 2-6 on the road). Another statistic looming for the Saints is the fact that in the last 9 games they’re 1-8 against the spread vs. a team with a losing record. Against the Saints earlier this season, the Hawks showed up pretty well as Matt Hasselbeck threw for 366 yards and a touchdown, completing a healthy 32 for 44 without an interception. Also, Seattle is getting 10.5 points, at home, in the playoffs – that should be an auto-bet right there. You add on to the fact that New Orleans lost both their tough running backs, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, to injury last week – auto bet should be accepted.
But it isn’t, because the Hawks are making history. Not only are they the worst team to ever make the playoffs (record-wise), they are also quite possibly the worst team to make the playoffs (even when you completely ignore records).
I actually think the injuries to the Saints’ running backs makes this game an easier cover. Without the ability to run a lot, the Saints will undoubtedly throw more, and Drew Brees and company vs. that Hawks secondary seems like an unfair battle.
New Orleans should win easily over Seattle, the question is how much will the Saints unload on the Hawks – I say it’s at least a 20 point game.
Texas A&M Aggies @ Louisiana State Tigers AT&T Cotton Bowl Free Pick: LSU just kept finding ways to win. At 10-2 in the SEC, they are a very good football team, but I don’t know if they are as good as that record makes them seem. Still, it’s hard to argue with hard evidence, and the only games LSU lost were to Auburn and Arkansas, two pretty good football teams. LSU beat Mississippi State, West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina (all Bowl teams). The Tigers were 7th in total defense, 9th in passing yards allowed, and 11th in points allowed. That’s all in the SEC. Offensively is where they are below average. They have almost zero passing attack, ranking 107th (damn near last) with 155.4 yards per game, and it’s not like they are an elite rushing attack, either- ranking 31st in the Nation, which is solid but not great. The Tigers are 51st in points scored at 28.8 – yes, there are holes in their offensive attack.
Texas A&M finished the season on fire, winning 6 straight games after losing three straight to Oklahoma State (by 3), Arkansas (by 7), and Missouri (by a lot). But the most important thing to look at here is how they haven’t lost with Ryan Tannehill as the starting quarterback. Tannehill took over in the Kansas game, and it’s been all winning all the time since then. Defensively the Aggies are solid, but not great. Offensively, they are solid, but not great. I just think they find a way here.
I think the lesser-ranked Aggies are the better team, even though LSU has found ways to win week in and week out. The Aggies really finished strong, and I like them to pull the small upset.
#17 Texas A&M Aggies (+1.5) @ #11 Louisiana State Tigers