In a week that seemed unpredictable due to rested starts, playoff battles and other sorted nonsense, we each had our best week of NFL predictions this season. James finished 14-2-0 while I finished 11-5-0 to secure a winning mark in the regular season.
Now we return for round one of the 2012 NFL Playoffs. The wild card round of the NFL playoffs provides a unique opportunity as four division winners will host games even when they are facing a team with a dramatically better record. The Denver Broncos stumbled into the playoffs but get to host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Mile High. Last year, the Seattle Seahawks proved how important home field advantage can be.
This year, the team looking to benefit most from home field would be the Broncos. They are a sizable underdog but they bring a stout defense, a strong rushing game and of course potential Tim Tebow magic. It might not be enough, but it gives them a puncher's chance.
David - HOUSTON TEXANS (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals: It is easy to go with the Bengals against the T.J. Yates-led Texans, but I think Arian Foster and playing at home can be a significant difference-maker. Both teams are new to the postseason and dealing with rookie quarterbacks. Both teams have solid defenses. I really think this comes down to whether or not Arian Foster can dominate on the ground. I think he will.
James - Cincinnati Bengals (+3) over HOUSTON TEXANS: I know Cincy is on the road, but I really do not like the way Houston finished out the season. First the loss to Carolina, then there was the embarassing loss to the Colts, and finally, they decided to sit a lot of starters in week seventeen. With TJ Yates as their playoff quarterback, the Texans really needed to take some momentum into the post season. The Texans' first ever playoffs will be rather short lived.
David - NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-11) over Detroit Lions: As long as the Saints are playing at home, I will continue taking them to cover. The Lions could very well spring the upset, but the odds are pretty slim. I would be fairly shocked to see them keep up in a shootout and I don't think their defense can contain the Saints in the Superdome.
James - NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-11) over Detroit Lions: Eleven points in a playoff game is a little insane to me. It's not like the Lions are a 7-9 team who doesn't deserve to be in the post season, they are a legitimate threat to win. But with that being said, I simply cannot pick against the Saints when they are playing at home, in the dome. Their offense is just too explosive.
David - Atlanta Falcons (+3) over NEW YORK GIANTS: The Falcons have been inconsistent this season and have a bit of a questionable defense, but I have a gut feeling about this one. I actually think the Giants are the more complete team, but something just strikes me about this. Those are usually the first words before I lose money.
James - NEW YORK GIANTS (-3) over Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta may have a better record than the Giants, but they are not a better team. Eli Manning is having a great year and the defensive line of the Giants is still one of the best in the league. Maybe if the Falcons were at home, but like I have said a few times this season, the Giants really look like they want it and are going to play all out in every game. The same cannot be said for the Falcons.
David - DENVER BRONCOS (+8) over Pittsburgh Steelers: This is not an endorsement of Tim Tebow. Rather, I think Willis McGahee in the run game and Von Miller and the Broncos defense could be just enough to give the Broncos a chance. They might come up short, but I think there's a chance.
James - Pittsburgh Steelers (-8) over DENVER BRONCOS: The Flying Tebows barely scraped their way into the playoffs, needing the Raiders to choke at home in order to get in. The Steelers on the other hand, are one of the most experienced playoff teams in the post season. I fully expect this game to be a lot like the Ravens/Chiefs game was in last year's playoffs.
Last Week: 11-5-0
Last Week: 14-2-0