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Sunday, 13 January 2013

NFL Divisional Round Play Off Picks 2012

I didn't post up my picks for Saturday's games in the Divisional Round as I wasn't overly convinced about either, but it turned out they went 1-1 (picked Denver on the spread and over 45 points in the San Francisco game).

Both games surprised me yesterday- I was completely bamboozled by John Fox's decision to NOT let Peyton Manning throw the ball and engineer a late drive to put the game to bed, although it wasn't the Head Coach's fault that Raheem Moore took the worst angle possible as a Safety in allowing Baltimore to tie the game with 31 seconds left.

I also thought the San Francisco game would be much closer, but I guess Colin Kaepernick had seen what Joe Webb was able to do against the Green Bay Packers last week and he just took it to the next level. Kaepernick was brilliant, making some clutch throws and the correct decision when to run and when to put the ball into the hands of Frank Gore.

The dominant performance of the San Francisco team also confirmed that Jim Harbaugh was right to make the change from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick and I am beginning to think this will be the team that will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season.

Harbaugh Bowl is still a possibility in the big game, but I am still holding sway with New England in the AFC, particularly as they will have home field advantage in both games left if they win out.

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: I really am not a big fan of when one team is being favoured in all quarters, yet they are still being given points as the layers are generally not silly people.

However, there are so many elements of this game that are favouring the Seattle Seahawks that I have to say the points are too appealing to ignore.

Seattle are going to be able to run the ball against the Atlanta Falcons and they should be able to keep Russell Wilson in short yardage situations throughout the game. Marshawn Lynch and Wilson both provide the ammunition to run the ball straight at Atlanta and the Falcons have not been good against the rush all season.

The lack of pressure they get from their Defensive Line will be another issue for Atlanta and Wilson will have time to find receivers downfield and the Quarter Back has looked after the ball enough to think Seattle are going to score at least 21-24 points in this one.

That'll put the pressure on Matt Ryan who has yet to win a Play Off game and who has seen his team beaten heavily in their last 2 Play Off appearances against the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.

Ryan is going to be under pressure from a Seattle Defense that has got a lot of pressure on opposition Quarter Backs, while the match up again is in the Seahawks favour. The Seattle Secondary is capable of taking away Roddy White and Julio Jones just enough to force Atlanta to settle for field goals or having to punt the ball away and that is mainly because they will become one-dimensional with their Offense.

It is possible to find some running lanes against Seattle, but Michael Turner may not be the Running Back to expose those flaws and that will mean Matt Ryan is left in long yardage situations and have to move the chains with his arm.

I can see a big turnover going in favour of Seattle in this one and I'll take the field goal worth of points in this one. However, I am limiting my interest simply because this isn't the best spot in terms of time and having to play on the East Coast for Seattle.

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots Pick: I hate big spreads in the Play Offs and I guess I haven't learned my lesson from the Denver Broncos game last night as I am going to back the New England Patriots to win this one and cover the 9.5 point spread.

This pick isn't solely because New England are at home where they absolutely smashed Houston to bits in the regular season, but mainly because I think the Patriots are going to be very tough to stop when they have the ball and they have too many weapons for the Texans Defense.

For Houston to have any chance in the game, they have to get Arian Foster going in a similar manner to how he went off against the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend. The whole Houston Offense is based on the fact that they can get the run established and that opens up the play-action for Matt Schaub, a Quarter Back that can struggle when the pressure is on him to drop back and find receivers in regular formations.

The problem for the Texans is that New England have been very stout against the run this season and Aqib Talib is good enough to at least restrict Andre Johnson in the passing game. If those two players do not get it going, Houston just aren't going to keep up with the Patriots.

I am expecting Tom Brady to dissect this Houston Defense again, especially with Rob Gronkowski back in the line up. While Houston are healthier on that side of the ball, New England have enough weapons that cause match up problems, particularly the two Tight Ends, and they should be able to move the chains fairly comfortably.

The Patriots also have a solid rushing game to complement Brady and they will find running room if Houston decide they are going to drop men into coverage to stop the aerial threat. This should all in all lead to more touchdowns rather than field goals and I like the Patriots to cover.

MY PICKS: Seattle Seahawks + 3 Points @ 1.90 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
New England Patriots - 9.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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