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 Post subject: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:27 pm 
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Congratz, Pudge, thought I might catch you the last three weeks, but was not ment to be.

Ah, always the bridesmaid.....

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 Post subject: Re: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:36 pm 
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Thanks. I had that midseason dip, I think I sort of took the early lead I got for granted, and didn't put as much effort in making the picks. Couldn't look anybody in the face if I had wound up choking that bad.

Finished tied for 4th in the 1300-strong Falcons group, at one point early on I was leading it. Makes me think I can start betting on games for real. Of course that means if I start next year, then I'll be really bad.

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 Post subject: Re: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:44 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
Thanks. I had that midseason dip, I think I sort of took the early lead I got for granted, and didn't put as much effort in making the picks. Couldn't look anybody in the face if I had wound up choking that bad.

Finished tied for 4th in the 1300-strong Falcons group, at one point early on I was leading it. Makes me think I can start betting on games for real. Of course that means if I start next year, then I'll be really bad.

Well done. Wagering real $ is a factor in and of itself...like trying to drive a nail with someone leaning over your shoulder watching...pressure busts a pipe and all that. As a freind of mine used to say, "I wouldn't bet on a jet outrunning a terrapin." Betting the NFL is pretty tough. College...not so much.

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 Post subject: Re: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:03 pm 
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Here are my picks for this week's games:

http://falcfans.com/pudges-picks-divisi ... yoffs-6871

Pudge’s Picks – Divisional Playoffs
January 11th, 2013
Aaron Freeman

Last week I went 3-1 with my straight picks, and split against the spread. I hope to do better this week. Here are my straight picks this week:

Denver over Baltimore
San Francisco over Green Bay
Atlanta over Seattle
New England over Houston

Yep, no real surprises, taking all of the favorites. The odds are against me that all the favorites and home teams will win. But I feel like 2012 will be an aberration from previous years where home teams/favorite generally split in the wildcard and divisional rounds. Click on after the jump to read the more detailed breakdowns of my picks.



Can Ray inspire Baltimore to another win?
Baltimore Ravens (11-6) at Denver Broncos (13-3)
Saturday January 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm ET on CBS
*Line: Broncos (-10)

This is going to be an interesting game because it’s a rematch of a Week 15 blowout in which Denver blew out Baltimore 34-17.

But what I’m interesting in is the fact that the Ravens have undergone several changes since then. Kelechi Osemele is no longer the right tackle, as Von Miller abused him for 2 hits and 6 hurries in that game (per Pro Football Focus). Michael Oher has moved back to his natural right tackle spot, with Osemele moving inside to left guard, and Bryant McKinnie now manning left tackle. Will this shuffle make a difference against Miller? I don’t know, but it’s one of those things that could be the deciding factor in a Ravens upset.

The other factor is Ray Lewis and the inspirational upgrade it might bring to the Ravens defense. Is Lewis going to be a major factor? Probably not. But if his presence can inspire Paul Kruger, Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed, and Cary Williams to play at a high level, then it could tip things in the favor of the Ravens. Maybe they get a couple of turnovers and that could make the difference in the game.

But the problem the Ravens face mainly is their struggles on the outside. Without Lardarius Webb, can they handle Denver’s big receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker? Jimmy Smith has struggled this year, and if he gets extended reps that could spell trouble for Baltimore (he only played 2 snaps against the Colts).

Basically if Denver’s good players on offense and defense play their normal, excellent games, then the Ravens really won’t win. Those players are Thomas, Decker, Peyton Manning, Miller, and Champ Bailey. The Ravens need some of those guys to have a bad week and I don’t know if it will happen. But because of the bye week, it’s possible Denver could come out rusty early, and Baltimore takes advantage.

They will need Flacco to play well, something he has rarely done on the road this year. Torrey Smith really needs to go off, and Ray Rice needs to protect the ball and be able to move it consistently on the ground. As I noted last week, I’m going to be rooting for the Ravens for personal reasons to pull the upset. But it’s probably not going to happen.

I’m not writing off the Ravens as I won’t be shocked if they win. But if they do, it’ll be another instance of a team rising to the occasion and playing inspired so that they exceed their overall ability. It’s possible, but things like that don’t happen very often in the playoffs. Most of the times when a team upsets another, it’s usually because the underdog matched up better than probably most people assumed. The Ravens have some weapons (Rice, Flacco, and Reed), but they will need great games from them this week to pull off the improbable upset.

I want to pick the Ravens, just because I’m rooting for them. But my desire to see them win is trumped by my conceited desire to be perfect on my picks.

Spread Pick: Ravens
Straight Pick: Broncos



LT Marshall Newhouse will be tested vs. 49ers

Green Bay Packers (12-5) at San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm ET on FOX
*Line: 49ers (-2.5)

This is also a rematch of a regular season game, but this one dates back to Week 1. And similarly, teams have changed. Most notably, Colin Kaepernick is under center for the San Francisco 49ers.

I barely even recall that season opening game. I just remember thinking that the Packers would make a valiant second half comeback, but that did not happen.

The 49ers are the better team and match up fairly well with the Packers. But they are still the Green Bay Packers. And if Aaron Rodgers is hot, then they are tough to beat. Getting Charles Woodson back should be a boost to their team.

The big concern with the 49ers is the health of Justin Smith, but he’s expected to suit up on Saturday. But how effective will he be? I’m not sure. Smith hasn’t had a great season, but the tandem of Smith up front and Aldon Smith behind him is very scary for any team, especially for the Packers given how inconsistent the play of left tackle Marshall Newhouse and left guard T.J. Lang has been this season. But the real scary aspect of Green Bay’s front is right tackle Don Barclay, their weakest link, who will be facing a combination of Ray McDonald and Ahmad Brooks. Pressure will make a difference in this game. If the 49ers can get pressure on Rodgers as they did in Week 1 and most teams have done throughout this season, it spells trouble for the Packers.

But on the flipside, if Clay Matthews and the Packers can get pressure on Kaepernick, good things can happen. If you’re betting which QB is likely to face the most heat, the smart money is on Rodgers.

Another question will be whether Kaepernick gets the “deer in the headlights” look from playing in his first playoff game. He might start sluggish, but given the home crowd, I’d be surprised if Kaerpernick struggles for all four quarters. I wasn’t too high on Kaepernick’s NFL prospects when he came out two years ago, but he’s played well this year. And if he has a strong game on Saturday, I’ll be willing to concede that I was off on my assessment. And if you know anything about me and my ability to admit wrongness, you know that’s a big step.

I think Green Bay can win, if they can slow down Frank Gore and their deep secondary can create some turnovers. That coupled with a good game by Rodgers against a weak 49ers secondary, Green Bay could pull the road upset. That’s the biggest weakness of the 49ers, on the back-end. And if they cannot get pressure due to the ailing status of Justin Smith, the Packers could really do damage.

But in all honesty, I don’t see a ton of difference between that 2010 Packers team that won it all and this year’s team, at least on paper. That was a team that wasn’t all that great during the regular season either and really turned it on for the playoffs, where there offense and pass defense was lights out. Can this year’s team do the same? Perhaps. All of the pieces are there. The only major difference is the offensive line with Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga in 2010, with Newhouse and Barclay now in 2012.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers



Seattle Seahawks (12-5) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Falcons (-1)

It’s time the Falcons rose up. They’ve been kicked around in the playoffs and all of the conditions are ripe for them to finally change their fortunes. Seattle is a good team that has been hot over the past two months, but they aren’t a great team. The Seahawks will have the utmost confidence that they can travel to Atlanta and beat a Falcon team that has never won a playoff game under Mike Smith.

I think they will be sorely mistaken.

I expect this to be a close ballgame that comes down the final possessions in the fourth quarter. Neither team is significantly better than the other to expect any sort of blowout. I’m fully aware of Seattle’s ability to win this game by running the ball effectively with Marshawn Lynch coupled with Russell Wilson’s playmaking abilities causing fits for the Falcons’ lackluster pass rush and run defense. I also know that Seattle has a good defense with a pair of corners that many feel are the best in the league, and can match up with who those same people feel are the best tandem of receivers in the league.

But I think all of that won’t come to fruition. I think Roddy and Julio will prove they are indeed the best pair of receivers in the league and showcase that Browner and Sherman are overrated. I think the Falcons defense and Mike Nolan will play a very good game against Wilson and Lynch, keeping them contained and showing the same patented ability to create their own big plays and turnovers they’ve shown throughout this season at home.

I just really feel that this team is not too shy for the spotlight this year. Unlike previous years, I don’t expect them to come out with flawed game plans or tentative play. They know they have to win this game, but I don’t think they are going to get too tight for it. I think Mike Smith & Co. will have them prepped and ready to go. And the Falcons will shock the football-watching world, very little of which believes they are going to win this game.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons



Arian Foster will be a key player against Denver

Houston Texans (13-4) at New England Patriots (12-4)
Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm ET on CBS
*Line: Patriots (-9.5)

The third regular season rematch of this round. The Patriots worked the Texans late in the year, beating them 42-14 in Week 14. That game came at the end a three-game road stand against arguably the best team in the NFL (definitely in the Top 4), a tough situation for any team, even a team as good as the Texans. They rebounded the following week working over a Colts team at home. But then after that point, the Texans looked more like the team that got waxed by New England, and thus it’s harder to argue that game was a one-game aberration. They will have to go back to New England coming off a lackluster opening round win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Houston has the ingredients to beat the Patriots, but they need to play their best possible game. The key figures in this game will be J.J. Watt and Arian Foster. No big surprise there. If the Texans defense can get heat on Brady, he has a tendency to struggle. That will be mainly on Watt, who had a good game previously against the Pats, but not enough to thwart them alone. The Texans gave up some big pass plays in that game, and can’t afford to do so again. They’ll need Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson to play up their abilities and contain the likes of Welker, Hernandez, Lloyd, and Gronkowski. Worth noting that Gronk did not play in that game, which certainly favors New England this time around.

Offensively, Houston needs to pound the rock with Foster and keep the Patriots explosive offense off the field. This is a recipe for success as many will point out the 2010 playoffs, where the Patriots waxed a Jets team in Week 13 and then played them following a first round bye in the playoffs and got handly beat.

Will that happen to this year’s Patriots team? No, probably not. It’s hard to bet against J.J. Watt wreaking havoc, but the Texans team looks like one that is waiting to be put out of its misery unless Kubiak can rally the troops this week. Given that Kubiak hasn’t really rallied them at any point in their month-long slide, there’s no reason to think he’ll do so this week.

Spread Pick: Texans
Straight Pick: Patriots



* Lines come from ESPN.com.

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 Post subject: Re: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:15 pm 
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Yeah, forgot to say Congrats Pudge, we were neck and neck most of the year but I imploded at the end, just like the Seahawks are gonna do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and my pics for this week are,

Atlanta 31-24
Green Bay 31-24

New England 34-20
Denver 20-17

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 Post subject: Re: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:33 pm 
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Atlanta 28-16
Packers 24-17

Patriots 31-20
Broncos 23-17

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 Post subject: Re: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:28 pm 
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My full previews are here http://tjrsports.com/articles/nfl-q-a-w ... edition--2

I like all the home teams this week.

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 Post subject: Re: Pick 'em
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:04 am 
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http://falcfans.com/pudges-picks-champi ... ekend-6944

Pudge’s Picks – Championship Weekend
January 18th, 2013
Aaron Freeman

This is the weekend where legends are formed. Every paper and sports blog in America, and many across the globe will run stories about lesser-known players like Stephen Nicholas, Robert McClain, Rob Ninkovich, Bernard Pierce, or Alex Boone over the next two weeks should their teams win on Sunday. When your team is in the Super Bowl, suddenly every aspect of your team becomes interesting. When your team is not, no one cares. Regardless of how much success you’ve had this season up to this point, if you lose this weekend, the storyline becomes about why you weren’t good enough as opposed to being pretty darn good to make it this far in the first place. People tend to become only focused on all the things that are missing for you to taste and experience that glorification that comes from two weeks of Super Bowl coverage.

The beauty of this year’s conference championship matchups, is that you’re going to get a fairly compelling Super Bowl matchup no matter what. If it’s Patriots-49ers, then you get that Belichick vs. Harbaugh hype. You also get the connection between Kaepernick and Brady, where Kaepernick’s usurption of an injured Alex Smith’s job in his second season and coming from virtually out of nowhere is so similar to Brady’s beginning back in 2001 with Drew Bledsoe.

If it’s Patriots-Falcons, you can get the Master vs. the Student hype with Belichick and Dimitroff. You also solidify those comparisons that people like myself have made with Matt Ryan and Tom Brady.

If it’s Ravens-49ers, you obviously get the Harbaugh Bros. storyline. You get the Flacco-Kaepernick storyline that centers around the fact that 2 months ago no one would have believed they’d be squaring off in New Orleans.

If it’s Ravens-Falcons, then you get the Flacco vs. Ryan storyline that has been brewing since both emerged as dynamite rookies in 2008, and kicking off this mini-run of successful rookie quarterbacks (and yes, I’m purposefully forgetting Roethlisberger).

I picked the Broncos over the Ravens straight up last week, and should’ve gone with my heart and taken the Ravens. I have an aunt that lives in Baltimore that is a die-hard Ravens fan, so if my picks are right this week, it should make the next two weeks very interesting.

Last week, I went 3-1 both against the spread and straight picks, bringin my playoff record to 6-2 against the spread and 5-3 straight up. I picked the Ravens to go to the Super Bowl in my preseason predictions, and if they do, that will mark two years in a row where I have successfully picked the AFC representative. A trifle, but it makes me feel at least semi-competent in terms of my prognostication skills. But here are my picks:

Ravens over Patriots
Falcons over 49ers

For more detailed analysis of why I picked the teams I did, keep on reading after the jump.


San Francisco 49ers (12-4-1) at Atlanta Falcons (14-3)
Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm ET on FOX

*Line: Falcons (+4)

I’m not going to lie, I’m biased on this one. I admitted as much in my game preview that I believe the 49ers are the better team, but I don’t think that will be the case on Sunday. If an old guy with a cane in a DeLorean showed up and told me that the 49ers won this game 40-14, I wouldn’t be completely shocked. On a neutral field on any given Sunday, that would probably be the outcome I would honestly expect. But in the Georgia Dome on this particular Sunday, I don’t think that is going to be the case. Maybe that still is my bias because I will in fact be on hand for this game, taking in my first Falcon home game since 2005. And in my delusional mind, I have some silly notion that my presence alone will be the tipping point.

But my reasoning for picking the Falcons in this game has some basis in football. I think the 49ers are the exact type of team that the Falcons match up very poorly against: a team that can control things in the trenches. That has been the biggest weakness of the Falcons this year, and it has led to their one-dimensional offense and lacking pass rush. The 49ers can shorten the game by pounding the rock and keeping that formidable Falcons passing attack off the field, and then get after the quarterback if/when the Falcons do decide to throw the ball.

But I don’t think the 49ers pass rush is as formidable as it was earlier in the season. Justin Smith has primarily become a run defender at this point in his career, and his injured triceps hasn’t helped matters when it comes to pressuring quarterbacks. And Aldon Smith just hasn’t been the same the past month. Maybe Aldon gets a fire lit under his butt this week and looks more like the guy he was back in September through November, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And I think that 49ers secondary is extremely vulnerable to the Falcons passing attack.

And while the Falcons defense I think will have issues slowing down the 49ers offense, particularly with John Abraham nursing a bum ankle, if the offense plays the way they are capable of playing, then they don’t need to be great. They just need to be good enough. Which they were a week ago, and have been consistently so at home this year. This season has always been about the Falcons offense’s ability to carry this team. And that high premium the Falcons paid for Julio Jones 20 months ago has now come to a head and I think pays off this week.

And I also like the fact that the Falcons kicker Matt Bryant is clutch, and the 49ers kickers (David Akers and Billy Cundiff) are not. And I believe in the end, that advantage will be the difference in the game.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons



Baltimore Ravens (12-6) at New England Patriots (13-4)
Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm ET on CBS

*Line: Patriots (-9)

I’m picking the Ravens, and not just because I picked them way back in September to go all the way. But again, there are legit football reasons to take them. They have played the Patriots extremely well over the years, beating them earlier this year and being within a play of possibly beating them last year in the AFC Championship.

What’s interesting about that is we know for sure that if the Falcons lose this weekend, it’ll be the fourth time in four tries that the Falcons playoff exit has come at the hands at the eventual NFC Champion. Well, what many Falcon fans may not know is the Ravens have already hit that benchmark, as they have lost to the eventual AFC Champion four straight years. Actually, it’s five straight playoff exits at the hands of the AFC Champion, as you can also include their loss in 2006 to the Colts. I hope for the sake of Ravens fans it doesn’t become six in a row.

The weakness of the Patriots defense is their ability to defend the big play in the passing game. And guess what? The strength of the Ravens passing game is the big play. Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith form a deadly combination. And if Ray Rice can give them a steady diet on the ground, they have the capacity to win this game. I think the injury to Rob Gronkowski is a much bigger deal than most. Yes, I realize the Patriots haven’t really skipped a beat with him out of the lineup this year. I thought a year ago that if Gronk was healthy, the Pats would have won against the Giants in the Super Bowl. I think those same words will be spoken Monday about Sunday night’s game. The Ravens defense hasn’t been great this year, but they’ve stepped up in January thanks mainly due to the inspirational presence of Ray Lewis. That unit is playing above their level, and without Gronk the Patriots will be playing below their level. And given how close these games have been before, that I believe will be the difference in this game.

Under Flacco, the Ravens are 1-3 against the Patriots in Gillette Stadium. But all of those losses have come by a single score. Twice the Ravens have lost when they were on the doorstep in the final seconds of the game. Both instances involved a Ravens receiver (Mark Clayton in 2009 and Lee Evans in 2011) dropping a pass. Clayton dropped a 4th down pass at the Patriots’ 10-yard line, and Evans famously had Sterling Moore knocking the ball out of his hands in the endzone in last year’s AFC Championship Game. That Evans drop of course led to Billy Cundiff’s missed 32-yard field goal. The other loss came when Brady mounted a 6-play, 45-yard drive in overtime that set up a 35-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.

Justin Tucker is the Ravens current kicker and has been outstanding this year as a rookie, and it would not surprise me one bit if both of this weekend’s games end on a field goal to lift one team over the other.

Spread Pick: Ravens
Straight Pick: Ravens

* Lines come from ESPN.

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