Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wild Card Weekend NFL Picks


As we try to do every year, here are our rankings for the players in action this week.  I have left the players with a bye this week off of this list, so this is only for Wild Card participants.  The rankings are based on who I think will have the best performances this week against their competiton.  We will look back in next week’s post on how we did on these picks:

1. Aaron Rodgers GBY
2. Andy Dalton CIN
3. Andrew Luck IND
4. Russell Wilson SEA
5. Robert Griffin III WSH
6. Matt Schaub HOU
7. Joe Flacco BAL
8. Christian Ponder MIN

QB notes: Griffin would be higher on the list, but his knee is supposedly still bothering him and may not have that multi-dimensional pass/rush attack he had earlier in the season.  For touchdown leagues, I would place Wilson ahead of Luck, but in our scoring system, which is more or less a 75/25 touchdown/yardage league, I would put Luck in front of Wilson.

1. Adrian Peterson MIN
2. Arian Foster HOU
3. Marshawn Lynch SEA
4. Ray Rice BAL
5. Alfred Morris WSH
6. BenJarvis Green-Ellis CIN
7. Vick Ballard IND
8. Alex Green GBY
9. DuJuan Harris GBY

RB notes: Peterson has had amazing success against Green Bay, so he gets the edge over Foster.  The top five runners on this list will be the main cog in their respective offenses.  The wild card here is how Ray Rice will be used by Baltimore.  The offensive coordinator, former Colts Head Coach, Jim Caldwell, has only been in his job with the Ravens for a couple of weeks, but the idea was to give Rice the ball a lot more.  We will see.

1. Jordy Nelson GBY
2. A.J. Green CIN
3. Andre Johnson HOU
4. James Jones GBY
5. T.Y. Hilton IND
6. Pierre Garcon WSH
7. Andrew Hawkins CIN
8. Kevin Walter HOU
9. Greg Jennings GBY
10. Torrey Smith BAL
11. Sidney Rice SEA
12. Santana Moss WSH
13. Reggie Wayne IND
14. Anquan Boldin BAL
15. Jarius Wright MIN
16. Golden Tate SEA
17. Michael Jenkins MIN

WR notes: Passing “attacks” are tough to call because of the fact that the quarterback has so many weapons and it depends on how things progress in-game.  Someone out of nowhere might have a 100-yard receiving game.  It takes you by surprise the same way it takes the defense by surprise.  You have seen it with the Saints in past years and you have also seen it with the Packers.  Will it be Nelson, Jones, Jennings, or someone else?

1. Owen Daniels HOU
2. Kyle Rudolph MIN
3. Dennis Pitta BAL
4. Dwayne Allen IND
5. Jermaine Gresham CIN
6. Jermichael Finley GBY
7. Anthony McCoy SEA
8. Logan Paulsen WSH

TE notes: Honestly, this is not a very strong class.  Two of the top four tight ends in the league did not make the playoffs (Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten) and the other two have a bye week (Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez).  Owen Daniels is the class of the group and Kyle Rudolph is emerging.

1. Justin Tucker BAL
2. Blair Walsh MIN
3. Steven Hauschka SEA
4. Shayne Graham HOU
5. Kai Forbath WSH
6. Adam Vinatieri IND
7. Mason Crosby GBY
8. Josh Brown CIN

K notes: What constitutes a good kicker?  Good-but-not-great offenses?  Yes.  Good weather?  Absolutely.  Playoff experience?  Sure, but not as much as the other two.  My top two are rookies, Tucker and Walsh.  Vinatieri and Crosby have plenty of experience, but Vinatieri only hit on 79% of his field goals during the year (26-for-33) and Crosby has missed some easy ones.

1. Seattle Seahawks SEA
2. Cincinnati Bengals CIN
3. Houston Texans HOU
4. Baltimore Ravens BAL
5. Green Bay Packers GBY
6. Washington Redskins WSH
7. Minnesota Vikings MIN
8. Indianapolis Colts IND

DST notes: Hey, remember when the Ravens were dominant?  They are not dominant any more and they are not particularly great against the run or pass.  The Seahawks are the top unit in play this week and you can definitely make a strong case for Seattle having the top unit of the 12 playoff teams.  Only San Francisco may have something to say about it.


Cincinnati at Houston (-4) – Straight Up: Houston, Against the Spread: Houston
Houston defeated Cincinnati last year in the Wild Card round, 31-10, and I think it will happen again this time.  Things are different this time around because Houston does not have the dominating defense they had last year.  But, Arian Foster is the best player on the field last year when he ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and should also be the best player on the field this year.  A.J. Green needs to be a central part of the Bengals coming up with the upset.  Houston has been less than impressive recently, but I think they win and cover against the Bengals.

Predicted Score: HOU 24, CIN 10

Minnesota at Green Bay (-7.5) – Straight Up: Green Bay, Against the Spread: Minnesota
Adrian Peterson has owned Green Bay this year with 409 yards in two games.  Both of those games have been in the last six weeks, so these are not stale numbers.  Peterson has to be Public Enemy Number One for the Packers defense, which gets Charles Woodson back to help with the pass defense.  Christian Ponder is questionable for this game, which may pose an issue if he is unable to go because the Packers will stack the box even more if Ponder does not play.  I think Minnesota will keep it close with the Packers coming away with the slim win.

Predicted Score: GBY 27, MIN 23

Indianapolis at Baltimore (-7) – Straight Up: Baltimore, Against the Spread: Baltimore
The feel-good story of the Indianapolis Colts has had a wonderful shelf life.  Andrew Luck is a Rookie of the Year candidate and has led his team to an 11-5 record.  Luck has been great late, engineering several game-winning drives in the fourth quarter.  The feel-good story extends to the sidelines where Chuck Pagano’s battle with cancer brought the team closer together.  Bruce Arians is my Coach of the Year, going 9-3 in Pagano’s absence.  But, Baltimore has their own motivation, as Ray Lewis has announced this will be “his last ride”.  Since when do you need extra motivation in the playoffs?  I think the number is right on the mark, as I think the Ravens will win by a touchdown.  The Ravens have to make sure the Colts do not have the ball last, down by less than a touchdown.

Predicted Score: BAL 24, IND 16

Seattle at Washington (+3) – Straight Up: Seattle, Against the Spread: Seattle
Rookie quarterbacks are on both sidelines this week, so one rookie quarterback will definitely advance past the Wild Card round.  Russell Wilson has been hot recently, with his Seahawks offense putting up an average of 42.5 points over the last four weeks.  How healthy is RGIII?  Griffin burst on to the scene and had a great middle of the season, too.  But, since Griffin’s knee injury in Week 14, he has not been the same.  I think the defense will be the difference and the Seahawks have the best unit going.  Seattle is the lone road favorite this week and I think they get it done, winning a high-scoring game in Landover.

Predicted Score: SEA 34, WSH 28 PLAYOFF CHALLENGE

We are participating in the Playoff Challenge, using our weekly rankings to pick our teams.  This is a different game than the Gridiron Challenge in that you do not have to adhere to a salary cap.  You are picking the top players at each position (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF) and see how they score in the Wild Card games.  The points are cumulative and bye-week players can also qualify here and their points they score next week are doubled.  I am not picking any bye-week players in my lineup.

QB: Aaron Rodgers GBY (vs. MIN)
RB1: Adrian Peterson MIN (at GBY)
RB2: Arian Foster HOU (vs. CIN)
WR1: Jordy Nelson GBY (vs. MIN)
WR2: A.J. Green CIN (at HOU)
TE: Owen Daniels HOU (vs. CIN)
K: Justin Tucker BAL (vs. IND)
DEF: Seattle Seahawks SEA (at WSH)

Catch me on "Sports With The StatMan" on Wednesdays at 11pm ET and Saturdays at 11am ET. We'll break down these picks and look ahead to next week on our This Week in Fantasy Sports segment, Saturday morning at 11am ET.

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