Since DCIAPC is the most successful feature our site has had, we decided to continue picking games in the NFL playoffs. We’ll predict each and every playoff game (against the spread, as always, because those who pick games straight up should be decapitated) [not really] and tally up our records at the end of each week.
Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs (+2) blew a 28 point lead and somehow lost to the Colts on the road, 45-44. The New Orleans Saints (+3) were able to defeat the Eagles on a last-second field goal, 26-24. As for the Sunday games, San Diego (+7) went to Cincinnati and easily handled the Bengals (27-10), and the final match-up was a PUSH, as the 49ers beat the Packers on the road by three, 23-20.
You can get involved with this too, by simply writing your picks in the comment section of this article. If making a WordPress account is just too physically taxing for you, feel free to tweet your picks at us or message us on Facebook. Please note that Harry will not hesitate to make fun of you if your picks suck. We’ll include all fan-made picks in their own standings column and the winner will get absolutely no prize or reward. If that’s not incredible motivation to get involved, I don’t know what is.
Before we get into this week’s games and spreads, let’s take a brief look at those standings. We only had one guest picker this past week, that being Creed Tucker, so we’ll include him in the same standings as our three handsome writers. Last week was unpredictable, even for the NFL Playoffs, and bettors across America struggled as a result. Luckily, that definitely couldn’t affect our incredible intellects and well though-out pi–oh. Hold on. Yeah, we sucked too.
1. Creed Tucker [2-1-1]
2b. Matt [1-2-1]
4. Harry [0-3-1]
Again, if you want to be a part of the standings, just pick the games for this week! Now, on to the divisional round games, where there are some big home favorites.
11-5 New Orleans Saints @ 13-3 Seattle Seahawks (-8.5)
Saturday, January 11th, 3:35 PM CST
Though many probably predicted the New Orleans Saints to win on the road in Philadelphia, few could’ve seen such a potent rushing offense coming. Mark Ingram had a throwback performance, looking like he was back at Alabama, where he won the Heisman trophy. Ingram rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries (5.4 YPC), part of a 185 yard New Orleans effort on the ground. The Saints figure to have a much more difficult time running the ball this week, as they go to Seattle to face the best defense in the league (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA ranking system). Though Seattle’s defense has been the backbone of their team in 2013, their offense has certainly been no slouch (ranked 7th in DVOA). The Seahawks also boast one of the strongest home field advantages in the NFL, which could have a significant impact on Saturday. When they played earlier this year, the Seahawks manhandled the Saints on way to a 34-7 victory.
11-5 Indianapolis Colts @ 12-4 New England Patriots (-7.5)
Saturday, January 11th, 7:15 PM CST
The Colts sure seemed have a horseshoe up their rear ends last weekend, as they came storming back to beat the Chiefs in the final minutes. Though surely aided by multiple injuries to key Kansas City players, Andrew Luck undeniably stepped up in the clutch. Indianapolis travels to New England this week for a classic playoff match-up of the 2000s. Tom Brady and the Patriots had a season chock-full of injuries and controversy (hi Aaron Hernandez), but somehow managed to come out with a 12-4 record in the mediocre AFC East. The Patriots are heavy favorites on Saturday, likely due to the incredibly shaky Colts secondary. THEY GAVE UP 44 POINTS TO ALEX SMITH. AND IT COULD’VE BEEN MORE. HOW CAN YOU LET THAT HAPPEN.
12-4 San Francisco 49ers @ 12-4 Carolina Panthers (+3)
Sunday, January 12th, 12:05 PM CST
San Francisco dominated the first half in Green Bay, but the Packers were able to force enough stops to stick around and keep it close. After a close second half, the 49ers were able to convert a couple of crucial third downs on their final drive, setting up Phil Dawson for a game-winning field goal. The Panthers were quite possibly the best feel-good story in the NFL this year. Following a 1-3 start, head coach Ron Rivera was taking flak from every talking head you can name. Just before being fired (most likely), Rivera changed his tune. Riding a new aggressiveness on fourth down and an absolutely dominant defense (#3 per DVOA), the Panthers ripped through the remainder of their schedule and finished the season on a 11-1 tear. These teams played once previously this season in San Francisco, a game the Panthers won 10-9 (Bob’s favorite score).
9-7 San Diego Chargers @ 13-3 Denver Broncos (-9.5)
Sunday, January 12th, 3:40 PM CST
Perhaps the best chance for an upset this week, the hot San Diego Chargers head to Mile High for a clash with the heavily favored Broncos. The Chargers defense was surprisingly dominant in their battle last week against the Bengals, largely due to a solid pass rush. Phillip Rivers is still doing Good Phillip Rivers things, which obviously bodes well for the Bolts. On the other side, Peyton Manning continues to break records. The Broncos are owners of the most dominant offense in football this year, led by that old dude, and they’re the #2 overall team in DVOA. Their defense has been shaky however, and the Chargers managed to beat the Broncos on the road just a few weeks ago, 27-20. The Broncos did win their earlier meeting in San Diego by a final score of 28-20.
Since I once again had to write the preamble to our picks (by choice, of course!), I’ll keep these relatively short and sweet. One new change for this week: Bovada offers prop bets for each game, so (along with predicting the final score) I’ll also add on four of my favorite bets. As always, this is just for fun. Keep in mind that Harry and Bob continue to merely predict the spreads of the games, while I offer much more in the way of entertainment [Bob: Is this even true?] on a weekly basis. That’s just me, going above and beyond (extremely out of character for me, by the way). [Harry: Yeah, it’s not like I consistently cranked out 2,000 words a week for the college version of DCIAPC this year or anything.] What I’m trying to say is, I should be your favorite writer on this site, not those other two idiots. Let’s get to the picks.
NO vs SEA The Seahawks have been the best team in the league this year, and I expect that to continue on Saturday. While the Saints put together a nice performance against Philly, the ‘Hawks have the best pass defense in the league and one of the best in the history of the NFL. I expect Brees to have a lackluster days and the Seahawks to cover this spread. In my opinion, this is just a really tough match-up for the Saints. My prop bet for this game has Marques Colton coming in UNDER 4.5 receptions. Seattle -8.5 (Seattle 27, New Orleans 16)
IND vs NE The Colts wouldn’t have made it to this point without a large amount of injury luck against the Chiefs, and I actually expect the Patriots to take them to the cleaners this week. Bill Belichick is a great coach coming off a bye week, and he’s had plenty of time to scout out this relatively weak Indianapolis squad. My prop bet for this game predicts that Tom Brady will have OVER 1.5 touchdown passes against an embarrassing Indy secondary. Patriots -7.5 (New England 38, Indianapolis 20)
SF vs CAR This is the toughest pick of the week in my opinion. The 49ers might be a top three team in the league, but they have to go on the road against a Panthers team that already beat them once this year. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to bet on the side of Ron Rivera, no matter how much his decision-making has improved this year. The Panthers are still a young team without much playoff experience, but I suppose I’ll take them in this one. With two seemingly even teams, it seems like the home underdogs are the smarter pick. My prop bet here has Carolina RB Deangelo Williams OVER 49.5 yards on the ground. Carolina +3 (Carolina 14, San Francisco 13)
SD vs DEN The Broncos are truly capable of a blowout at any time, especially against a team with a mediocre defense, but I have a strangely large amount of confidence in the Chargers in this game. They’ve been playing like one of the best teams in the league recently, and a dominating win over a great home team like the Bengals makes me feel better about picking them in this matchup. In both their games against the Broncos this year, the Chargers would’ve beaten a 9.5 point spread, so I’ll take them against that in the playoffs. As for a prop bet, I’ll gladly take Phillip Rivers to finish with OVER 265.5 passing yards on the day. San Diego +9.5 (Denver 35, San Diego 31)
I’ll preface my picks this weeks by saying that my 1-2-1 record was kind of bullshit. And that’s not 100% sore loser talk. The first game had a spread of 2, which essentially is a pick. Nobody considers a 2-point spread when picking an NFL game. Thus, I took the Colts -2, and of course they won by 1. Basically what I’m saying is (as Bill Simmons discussed this week) with a spread that low, it may as well be a pick. It’s hard to judge a Chiefs +2 pick as more correct as a Colts -2 pick. [Matt: Let it be said that the Chiefs led by 28 points before losing their pro bowl caliber CB. I had no idea Bob was capable of predicting injuries and subsequent performance improvements. Impressive.] Furthermore, at game time, the Chiefs were in fact one-point favorites. In addition, I correctly picked the winner in the 49ers-Packers game with a very low spread, but of course that ended up being a push. So really I went 3-1, but whatever. This is why I don’t put money on these games.
NO vs SEA Before I make this pick, I want to make a couple things clear. The meme that the copyright-infringing “12th Man” makes Seattle unstoppable at home is incorrect. A quality-but-not-playoff team looked fantastic against Seattle at home Week 16, ending Seattle’s quest to go undefeated at home for the second consecutive year. Secondly, the Seahawks’ throttling of the Saints on MNF was much more lopsided than the game really was. As Bill Barnwell points out, Seattle came away with tons of breaks over the course of the game. That said, New Orleans won last week’s game by running the ball effectively, which was especially amazing given that Pierre Thomas missed the game. While Ingram’s performance was impressive, I fear that that is not something we can expect this week (New Orleans was 19th in rushing DVOA this season), particularly against a much stronger run front in Seattle. What makes things look worse for the Saints is that the Seahawks post a #1-rated pass defense DVOA. This spread is gigantic, which scares me after seeing all of the tight affairs (ha) last week and expecting this one to be a relatively low-scoring game. There is expected to be a 100% chance of precipitation and 20+-mph wins, which further makes me think the scores will be low. I was about to pick Seattle because they are so dominate in every facet of the game. Almost any statistic points to Seattle being a pretty studly team. However, I am confident New Orleans will be able to sustain a running game at least a little bit here, and I trust Brees to make the plays when he needs to– at least more than I trust Wussell Wilson. If we’re picking straight-up, it’s Seattle all day. The spread is just huge, and I feel the Saints can at least keep it close. One last statistic: in the past eight seasons, both one-seeds have advanced in just one of them. This game will come down to one key question: how well do PEDs perform in the rain? New Orleans +8.5
IND vs NE Indianapolis won last week’s game capitalizing on Brandon Flowers’ absence. Prior to his injury, the Colts offense looked relatively stagnant and turnover-prone, and then suddenly attacked the Kansas City defense with the dangerous Luck-Hilton combination. Unfortunately for the Colts, Hilton will be lined up across from Aqib Talib, a top corner. The Pats’ injury woes are completely ridiculous, but with the bye week and the Belichick/Brady combination, New England should be coming out strong. I’ve been saying for years that the sucking-Brady’s-dick-in-the-playoffs is secretly not a smart call, but I trust him against that defense that is pretty shaky if we’re talking about anyone not named Robert Mathis. I’m taking the injured team that somehow made it this far over the rebuilding team that somehow made it this far. New England -7.5
SF vs CAR My preseason Super Bowl pick: San Francisco over Denver. My current Super Bowl pick: San Francisco over Denver. I see them as a very formidable team because of how well-coached they are, how well-rounded they are, and the entire team’s experience. Carolina, on the other hand, can’t really say the same. Their defense has been fantastic this season, but trusting Cam in a huge playoff game with a hobbled Steve Smith against a San Francisco defense? Not a chance. Watch Carolina lose but cover the spread. San Francisco -3
SD vs DEN The first thing I think when I look at this matchup is, as Matt mentioned, San Diego covered this spread in both matchups these two teams had this year, including a San Diego victory in Denver in Week 15. Next up: San Diego has been sneaky sneaky good recently. As fun as it is fun to trash their defense, they really have improved recently. Furthermore, the gameplan in Cincinnati was absolutely genius: run the ball down the throats and shorten the game during the first half, then come out firing no-huddle in the second half, shocking Cincinnati, all while pressuring an inexperienced quarterback into implosion. While the last part obviously will not happen this week, I like the idea of Mike McCoy being sneaky good again this week, particularly against the offense that he architected. I repeat a statistic I mentioned earlier: in the past eight seasons, both one-seeds have advanced in just one of them. With spreads this big against some teams that have adjusted and executed very well, I won’t even flinch picking against both the one-seeds. San Diego +9.5
I’m writing this at the 11th-hour before posting and you probably haven’t even read down this far anyway so this is going to be quick. Here’s the good news about my 0-3-1 week: by Bob’s logic, I actually went 2-2 so that’s pretty cool I guess. Because I’m so terrible at picking games whenever my picks are published publicly on this blog, I’m going to do a fun little gimmick this time around. I’m going to lay out how I see the game playing out and who should cover the spread, and then pick exactly the other way for no logical reason other than the fact that I suck at this, so going against myself seems like a pretty good idea. [Matt: Bold strategy, Cotton.] I’m fully prepared to go 0-4 after the football gods spite me for these shenanigans.
NO vs SEA While I do think the whole “SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT HOME, YO” meme is slightly overblown, my instincts still tell me to take the ‘Hawks here. Memories of The Marshawn Lynch Game (TM) against New Orleans in the playoffs are still way too vivid for me to pick against Seattle in this game, especially because the Seahawks are much better now than they were then and the Saints are arguably worse. In my mind, all signs point to the Seahawks covering here. This week that means I’m taking New Orleans +8.5.
IND vs NE I think this spread being more than a touchdown is a lot of recency bias. Bettors tend to react way way way way way too strongly to a team’s most recent game when picking spreads and sportsbooks love to take advantage of this. In New England’s last meaningful game, they destroyed the Baltimore Ravens 41-7 and were clicking on all cylinders (I’m ignoring their Week 17 matchup against Buffalo, but they still won that by two touchdowns). Meanwhile, the Colts squeaked their way through a first round playoff matchup against the corpse of an injury-depleted Chiefs team. I don’t think New England is as good as they played in that Ravens game, nor are the Colts as bad as they were in the first half against KC. Because of this, I think the Colts cover the spread. Patriots -7.5
SF vs CAR
Wait, Carolina is an underdog in this game???? I promise guys, I was really intent on doing this whole betting-against-my-instincts-in-every-game thing, but this is just too much. I have to abandon my gimmick for just this game. I’m truly sorry. Panthers +3 As you can see, this one was particularly difficult to go against my gut and I was all set to pick with my instincts, but screw it I’m already two games into this thing so let’s do this. 49ers -3
SD vs DEN I learned my lesson last week to not count out the Bolts. This spread is even way too high for me to consider picking against them. This week, that means I can’t even consider not picking against them. Broncos -9.5