There are Rematches Aplenty in the NFL Divisional Round Picks
SEATTLE -7.5 over New Orleans
Saturday may turn out to be a really ugly day of football. It has less to do with the differential between opponents and everything to do with the weather conditions. Rain is supposed to blanket both games, starting with thunderstorms in Seattle. It will be interesting to see if lightning delays the game, but the general conditions won’t benefit the Saints, who are more of a finesse team. New Orleans didn’t catch a break in the first game. They were done by halftime after blowing a couple coverages and having Drew Brees throw a pick six. Things probably can only get better from there, but will it be enough?
Seattle should be able to take advantage of rookie left tackle Terron Armstead, get physical with New Orleans’ receivers on their predominantly short and intermediate routes, and score enough to make this a cover. The way to beat Seattle’s is to bring a serious pass rush and New Orleans just isn’t doing that.
Reggie: New Orleans
NEW ENGLAND -7 over Indianapolis
The second soaked game of the day comes on the other side of the country, but the conditions should be just as bad. That should impact the Colts more than the Patriots as the Patriots have become run-heavy since the loss of Rob Gronkowski. People are infatuated with the Colts after last week’s comeback against Kansas City, but all that second half scoring was done against a massively depleted Chiefs’ defense. The Chiefs were playing with half their starters by that point, so it was easy for the Colts to close the gap and eventually win.
Granted the Patriots aren’t what they were when they started the season. Their defense is vastly diminished with the injuries. But they have the one of the best defensive coaches in the business and they will find a way to shut down T.Y. Hilton. And Indianapolis is sure as hell not stopping New England from scoring. No one’s taking that title belt this week!
Reggie: New England
CAROLINA +1 over San Francisco
Call this the “Battle of Rick Flair.” Woo!!!! Let me start by saying I wouldn’t wager anything on this game in real life. This is going to be a brutal game between two good teams and there’s really no way to choose a side at this number. Something fluky like an injury or turnovers will decide the game and you can’t predict that right now. With that said, I think the Panthers are getting completely disrespected. They’re 12-4 and have a great season, yet I feel like everyone’s talking about how San Francisco is gonna come away with the win this weekend.
A lot has changed since their first matchup, which Carolina won IN SAN FRANCISCO. San Francisco has welcomed the return of Michael Crabtree and Aldon Smith, which has improved them on both sides of the ball. Vernon Davis also only played the first half of the prior game because of a concussion. Disrespect is nothing new for Carolina. They’ve been dealing with it all year. The loss of Steve Smith isn’t that big of a deal if he can’t suit up because he isn’t the same anymore. I’m giving their defense and the benefit of the doubt for being the home team.
Reggie: San Francisco
San Diego +9.5 over DENVER
Everything broke San Diego’s way in the game they won at Denver a month ago. They kept Denver off the field through a majority of the second and third quarter, while preventing Denver from scoring when they did actually get on the field. As mentioned last week, San Diego’s defense rises to the occasion. They showed it last week against Cincinnati and they showed it in the last game against Denver. It’s helped that they’ve gotten a few back from injury over the last month, but the proof is there. Denver’s defense meanwhile has lost key piece. Champ Bailey is almost back to full strength, but the loss of Von Miller might continue to haunt them.
There’s no reason to think this game shouldn’t be a shootout and San Diego’s good enough offensively to keep up with Denver. They’d be smart to run the ball and kill the clock as they did in December, but they should be able to hang in there even if they don’t.
Last Week: 2-1-1
Reggie’s Picks: 1-2-1