Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! A little late, but still timely, I hope!
First, a recap of some of last weeks key game action to get us where we are!
Dallas Cowboys 248, New York Giants 231: How many games of the week this year have included one of these top two teams in the league? And how much do you want to bet that these two teams meet in the NFC title game? Delanie Walker returned with a bang for the Cowboys, scoring 30 points, to lead a well-rounded 142 point offensive performance for the Cowboys and overcome a 41 point explosion by Justin “didn’t he used to suck for the Seahawks a while back” Forsett. This game wasn’t terribly meaningful except as a bragging rights game, but congratulations to the Giants and Cowboys for their sheer consistency this season.
Oakland Raiders 220, Kansas City Chiefs 179: On to games with real playoff implications. A huge game for Oakland which has now won 3 straight to claim the final wild card spot, and seems to be looking stronger every week. In fact, this week 12 performance was Oakland’s highest point total of the year. The Raiders young offensive players are all turning it up at the right time, with Jordan Matthews capitalizing on the Eagles QB change, Andre Holmes and De’Anthony Thomas scoring consistent points, and Josh “Arma-Gordon” returning with a resounding 31 points on 16 targets. Oakland did all this despite a terrible 2 point ball-drop by Mike Vick, who was promptly replaced by Shaun Hill for the play-offs. This team is going to be a super hard out having gotten hot at exactly the right time.
Denver Broncos 229, Miami Dolphins 176: And look who else appears to be rounding into shape at exactly the right time? The flying geriatric Peytons have been surprisingly mediocre much of the year despite their 11-5 record, finishing only 15th in total points. But this 146 point offensive performance wasn’t surprising. It wasn’t even out of character. This offense can have this kind of game just about any time – and if they do in the playoffs, they will be a hard out.
On the other side of the football, its a game of inches. A game of inches. After this drubbing by Denver, Miami fell to 9-7, losing out on the wild card spot to Oakland. But let’s keep in mind that Miami lost a pair of games, each by less than 2 points early in the year. One of those games was a week five loss to those same Oakland Raiders, 141-140. One point. You reverse that one, single, week 5 point and Miami is in the playoffs. Fantasy Football can be a cruel, cruel game.
Onto our playoff predictions (which come, it should be noted for honesty, in the midst of the Lions / Bears game):
#3 Kansas City vs. #6 Oakland:
Always ride the hot hand. And avoid the injured one. Oakland comes rolling into the playoffs on a streak, and has strong matchups for key players, including Jordan Matthews, Eddie Lacy, and Josh Gordon. The Chiefs, on the other hand, have red flags on Jordan Cameron, Jordan Reed, and Eric Berry, and big question marks around other underperforming offensive players. I predict this one will be very close, and that Josh Gordon won’t score 31 again – but that in the end, Oaklandh as enough firepower to win their fourth and move on.
#4 Indianapolis vs. #5 Denver:
Let me tell you a little secret about the Washington Redskins Defense. I’ll whisper it for you: “It’s not very good at stopping pass plays”. Andrew Luck is mad. He’s cranky. He’s playing Washington. He’s going to throw for 8 billion yards. And he’s going to do it to TY Hilton. Indy is also due – it’s been a rough last three weeks – and I just have a feeling that this week looks like an explosion for the Colts. Meanwhile, Denver just had its explosion. I predict a regression to the mean for the Broncos offense (which is still good, but not 140 points good), and Indy knocks Denver out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
#3 New Orleans vs. #6 New York Giants:
Prediction: New York Giants
Seeding and tie-breakers are so weird. The New York Giants finished as the #2 scoring team in RDFL this year – and it wasn’t close. They scored 3453 points. By contrast, Oakland (lowest scoring playoff team) scored only 2674. But the Giants have the #6 seed in the NFC by virtue of playing in the same division as Dallas and losing both Head to Heads to Philadelphia. And the team that is most upset about that? New Orleans. What a reward for fighting off the Falcons and winning their division. Look, this game could go either way. New Orleans is a fantastic football team and that offense is finally completely healthy. But I can’t pick against NYG. At least I can’t until they play Philly or Dallas again.
#4 Seattle vs. #5 Philadelphia:
So this is the pick I feel least comfortable with. The Seahawks have absolutely backed into the playoffs at 8-8 and just lost to the Arizona “We tried SO HARD to tank this year and just couldn’t quite make it work” Cardinals. And they face a very tough matchup with the real football 49ers this week, which should further depress player values. And the Eagles, on the other side, are playing well and just picked up Colin Kaepernick to further improve their team.
But I have a feeling. This is the sort of game that screams Philadelphia. And it reminds me of that game a few years again where the 7-9 NFC West winning Seahawks got a home game against the Saints and beast-moded them into the ground. I think that happens here. I think Seattle gets some great efforts this week, and knocks off Philadelphia – simply because absolutely everything says they should not.
Good luck this week everyone, and Happy Turkey Day!!!