I finished the regular season with a winning record, but more importantly it looks this apples system is really working out. I may only have be three wins above .500, but I’m 205 apples in surplus. I can’t even count to 205. Let’s launch ourselves into the playoffs; home teams in CAPS.
Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Game:
Colts (+7) over RAVENS
What a great matchup we have here. The Colts had the motivational edge with ChuckStrong until out of nowhere (or maybe not) Ray Lewis announces he’s retiring at the end of the season! Genius! Cancelling out some of that positive juju for the Colts.
The Colts, though, are a very strange playoff team. 22nd in rushing. 21st in pass defense. 29th in rush defense. They’re even 25th in DVOA. Then again, the Ravens haven’t been particularly spectacular this season, either; they’re not top ten in offensive or defensive passing or rushing.
This game should be great on the surface with, but I don’t think either team is that great. The Ravens have lost 4 of the last 5, and the Colts have won 5 of their last 6, but the Colts have been outscored by 30 points this season. Luck set the record for rookie passing yards but is third in the league in interceptions–although he hasn’t had one in the last three games. Ray Rice is one of the top running backs in the league, but he has 257 carries to Joe “Elite” Flacco’s 531 passing attempts.
Bottom line is that neither team is especially great, and I’m not comfortable giving up 7 points to take the Ravens. I love Andrew Luck, but I also can’t imagine a player, team, and crowd more pumped than Ray Lewis’ Baltimore Ravens.
Prediction: Ravens 23 Colts 20
Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Game:
PACKERS (-7.5) over Vikings
How often do you get to see teams play two weeks in a row? The Packers were playing for home field advantage with the Vikings playing for a playoff birth last week, and Adrian Peterson happened. Clay Matthews did go out on a limb this week, though, and guaranteed that Adrian Peterson wouldn’t rush for 200 yards.
The thing is, the Packers gave up 409 yards to Peterson in their two matchups this year. Green Bay is 17th in rush defense, and they can’t even stop Peterson when they know he is by far the focal point of the offense. No one has been able to. But what’s most amazing about the Vikings offense is that Peterson has out-gained Christian Ponder over the last 10 weeks. 1598 yards to 1501 yards.
But then you have the Packers. They may not have a running game, but Aaron Rodgers is miles ahead of where Christian Ponder is. Not only that, but he has more weapons with Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley. Greg Jennings might not think that Lambeau Field has a home field advantage, but I can promise you that Ponder will not be good in the 25 degree weather.
As hard as it is to pick against Adrian Peterson, it’s even easier to pick against Christian Ponder. I’m not in love with the Packers against the stronger teams of the NFC, but what are the Vikings going to do when they fall behind Green Bay by double digits early in the game?
Prediction: Packers 31 Vikings 17
KFC Double Down Game:
TEXANS (-4) over Bengals
Five weeks ago this line would have looked very different. The Texans were 11-1 and the Bengals were 7-5. Arian Foster started to look more like DeShaun Foster, and Matt Schaub looked more like Charles Schwab. Then again, the Bengals are ran by Andy Dalton.
This line seems a bit low to me. The Texans have far and away more talent, but they haven’t been able to put it all together down the stretch. Andy Dalton is good enough to take his team to the playoffs, but he leaves too many plays on the field.
I’m going to make this simple. The Texans are just much better than the Bengals. Geno Atkins is a very good defensive lineman, but he’s no J.J. Watt. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is serviceable, but he doesn’t compare to the combo of Foster and Ben Tate. This won’t been too close.
Prediction: Texans 24 Bengals 13
Drink Cheerwine Lock o’ the Week:
Seahawks (-3) over REDSKINS
People keep saying this game is about Russell Wilson vs. RG3. But it’s not. It’s about the defenses.
The Seahawks come into the playoffs as the only team that is top-5 in offensive, defensive, and special teams DVOA. Marshawn Lynch has been sensational for the second year in a row, and Russell Wilson has become one of the best deep-ball throwers in the league, tops in passing touchdowns of over 20 yards.
More importantly is their defense, which allows almost 2 less points per game than any other team. They’ve given up more than 20 points just three times this season. Washington’s D, on the other hand, allows the 11th most points and 3rd most passing yards in the league. Seattle is winning without Russell Wilson being an elite quarterback, but if DeAngelo Hall and crew allow him to tread on that territory, this game may not be close.
Yes, the Seahawks haven’t been great on the road this year, but they’ve been the best team in the league in the last five games, out-scoring their opponents 193-60. Vegas is having a tough time giving lines for the Seahawks because they were so average early on this season and because their offense doesn’t have any big names.
But make no mistake. Seattle is one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs.
Prediction: Seahawks 34 Redskins 16
Overall record: 126-123-5
Last week: 8-8
Apple Total: 205
Apple Total Last Week: -75