Not a Wild Weekend
Not a Wild Weekend
By Bryan Power
For a league built on drama and storylines, there weren’t many to be had on NFL Wild Card Weekend. All four favorites won and covered, and all four games went Under the total. None of the games went down to the wire and I’m not sure I learned a single thing about any of the winners or losers that I already didn’t know.
I feel that there were three teams that overachieved this season by getting into the playoffs: Minnesota, Indianapolis and Washington. All three were exposed over the weekend and had unfortunate circumstances affect them even before the ball was kicked off.
How in this age of Twitter and 24-hour sports coverage did no one know about the severity of Vikings QB Christian Ponder’s elbow? As soon as the shocking announcement was made Saturday afternoon that Ponder would be inactive, bettors immediately jumped on Green Bay, betting the favorite from -7.5 to -10.5. We almost had a situation where Minnesota pulled out a back door cover as they had the ball in Packers territory down 24-10 in the final seconds, but that situation never materialized.
Not knowing that Ponder wouldn’t be playing, most of my analysis (I played Green Bay as *10*) centered around the tremendous edge the Packers had at quarterback with Aaron Rodgers. With Joe Webb under center, the Vikings didn’t have a chance. And why didn’t Minnesota run the ball with Adrian Peterson more? I realize they trailed for much of the game, but 22 carries is unacceptable, particularly with a backup quarterback in the game.
Indianapolis lost Bruce Arians to the flu bug the morning of the game, and that clearly had an effect. Arians is my choice for Coach of the Year as he filled in so admirably for Chuck Pagano, and it was somewhat of a cruel twist of fate that after missing Pagano for the balance of the year that Arians absence is what sealed the Colts’ fate.
The only real storyline coming out of the weekend is the Robert Griffin III “situation.” Was RG3 left in the game “too long?” Probably. But, I’m here to tell you that with an injured Griffin, the Redskins had no chance to beat the Seahawks no matter what coach Mike Shanahan would have done. When he finally did get in the game, Washington backup QB Kirk Cousins was ineffective at best, completing only 3 of 10 passes for 31 yards. For what it’s worth, the Skins were LEADING heading into the fourth quarter. And as you’re likely to see this week in Atlanta, pocket passers aren’t a very good option against a Seattle defense that was the best in the league during the regular season. Washington gained only 74 yards total in the final three quarters!
The weekend’s first game was Cincinnati at Houston. The Texans didn’t so much impress me in this one (though they did finish with a 420-198 edge in total yards) as the Bengals really disappointed me. Quarterback Andy Dalton was just awful. He missed wide open throws that if given the opportunity next week, Tom Brady will not against a vulnerable Houston secondary. Cincinnati’s only touchdown was scored by the defense, yet they still had a chance to win the game.
Three of this weekend’s games are regular season rematches and the team that won is favored the first go-around is favored this weekend. Could that mean another drama-less weekend? Perhaps. Does anyone see either AFC underdog (Houston and Baltimore) winning straight up? Not me. Over in the NFC, San Francisco beat Green Bay all the way back in Week 1 at Lambeau. Seattle at Atlanta is the only matchup that’s not a regular season rematch, and that’s the one game where everyone is going to give the dog the best shot.
After winning 17 straight seasons in the Divisional Round, the top seed in the NFC has been one and done four of the last five seasons. The top seed in the AFC had lost three straight years before last season.
- U (PHI at PIT)
- Larry Ness
- April 1, 2015 - 8:00 PM
- Offered at:
- pinnacle @ Under 5.5 -135
The Flyers arrival in town should also ensure Pittsburgh's full attention since they have defeated them in their last six encounters...
My free play is on Philly/Pitt Under at 8:05 ET.
Pittsburgh will find themselves down a man on defense with both Christian Ehrhoff and Kris Letang out for tonight's Metropolitan Division class between these two in-state rivals. With the Penguins' lacking the salary cap flexibility to call up another defenseman, they will have to resort to relying on a five-man rotation at their blue-line where all five will be expected to log in more minutes. At least in the short-term, that should not impact Pittsburgh's tenacity on its end of the ice. This team has the luxury of leaning on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury who has bettered his numbers after the All-Star break with a 2.18 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. The Pens have plenty at stake as they fight for home ice advantage for the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Flyers arrival in town should also ensure Pittsburgh's full attention since they have defeated them in their last six encounters. The Penguins average 2.8 goals per game but see that mark fall a half-goal to 2.3 goals per game against division rivals. Pittsburgh has also played seven of its last nine games under the number against teams with a winning percentage below .400.
Philadelphia enters this contest looking to rebound from a 3-2 loss to San Jose in the shootout on Saturday. The Flyers now go on the road where the under is 5-0-2 in their last seven road games against teams with a winning record on their home ice. Much of the "credit" for these unders can go to the Philly offense that scores only 2.3 goals per game away from home which does not reach their 2.6 goals per game average for the season. However, while the Flyers' offense struggles when playing in hostile environments, a pleasant surprise for this team already eliminated from the playoffs, has been the play of Steve Mason. The netminder has a very respectable 2.24 goals against average this season along with a .927 save percentage based on a sensational second-half of the season where he has produced a .939 save percentage and 1.89 goals against average since the All Star break. Take the under.
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