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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Wildly Specific Playoff Predictions – Wild Card Round

Fed up with analysts offering up their theories on keys to a game, what teams have to do to win and weak points for oppositions to exploit, but never putting their name to any concrete predictions? Obviously they have “reputations” they want to protect, but luckily I have no such burden, and so will grace you with my wildly specific predictions for the playoffs, starting this week with the Wildcard round.

Bengals 17-20 Texans

Soon-to-be Ground Player of the Week, Arian Foster
Just how many QB injuries can the Texans accumulate throughout the year? Still, at least TJ Yates is going to be good to go against the Bengals, and that will be the key here. I’m not saying Yates will lead the Texans to victory, but he’s played well enough to keep the Bengals D honest whilst Arian Foster and Ben Tate run all over them. Foster will end up with 143 all purpose yards and a TD, with Tate chipping in with 68 of his own. Jonathon Joseph will be the most important player here though. The former Bengal will be able to keep fellow pro-bowler AJ Green in check for most of the game, and keep him out of the endzone. Jerome Simpson will lead the Bengals in receiving, but it won’t be enough to prevent the Texans winning their first ever playoff game.

Steelers 31-3 Broncos

This will be Tebow's most common stance
The Broncos shouldn’t be here. Simple as that. Even though Big Ben is hobbled and Rashard Mendenhall is out, the Steelers will be too powerful for the Broncos. Isaac Redman will score a couple of TDs. The main reason for this very one-sided scoreline will be Tebow. He will get destroyed, throw 3 picks, and one will go all the way back. I feel sorry for the Broncos D in many ways. They’ve played really well this season, and have won their team so many games, only to see all the credit given to Tebow. Von Miller hasn’t been the same since his hand injury, and has struggled playing with his “club”. They’ll get some pressure on Ben, but not enough.

Lions 35-45 Saints

Jimmy Graham - He's so good, he can also fly
I’m not going out on a limb saying this one is going to be a shoot-out, and after Stafford threw for 520 yards last week, the Lions have made me believe they have a legitimate chance of out-scoring Brees and co. They won’t, but they have a chance to. The Lions passing D isn’t actually awful (although Matt Flynn made it look so), and the Saints will open them up with the run game first. Look for a lot of Sproles early on, finishing with 79 yards from scrimmage, followed by large doses of Chris Ivory pounding it up the middle (64 yards, 1TD). The scores will inevitably come from Brees’ arm though, and Jimmy Graham, Devery Henderson and Marques Colston will all find the endzone. The Lions will try a similar approach, using the run game to open up the pass, and Kevin Smith will go over 100 yards. With the game close in the 4th, Stafford with throw a pick to Patrick Robinson, and that’ll seal the result.

Falcons 20-34 Giants

Don't expect to see this in the WC round...
There won't be a DB this close to Nicks
The last two weeks have shown two faces of the Falcons: the one who got hammered by the Saints, and the one who ran the score up on the Bucs. The former will be more on show here. Just because Tampa couldn’t be bothered to show up and play in week 17, it doesn’t mean the Falcons are actually good. Admittedly, the Giants week 17 win came against a disappointing Cowboys team that was actually supposed to be playing for something, but right now I believe in Eli and co. more than Ryan. Victor Cruz will draw a lot of attention from the Falcons DBs, but still manage to go over 100 yards with a TD yet again. With extra time spent covering Cruz, Nicks will find himself wide open in the endzone twice, and make easy catches. The league worst Giants run game will rumble well, and Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs will combine for 159 yards, with Bradshaw crossing for a TD. The Falcons offence will do reasonably well, with Julio Jones scoring on a deep bomb from 61 yards, and Roddy White making 10 catches for 98 yards. It won’t be enough, however, and only 77 yards from Michael Turner will be a disappointment. Mike Smith will be criticised post-game for not using Turner more, and talk of the amount the Falcons spent on Julio will rear its head again.

- Phil Gaskin (@sosayitisaid)
- The Pulling Linemen

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