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NFL PlayOffs Divisional Round Weekend Picks 2020 (January 11-12)

The first weekend of the NFL PlayOffs did not let anyone down even though expectations had been raised by some of the performances of teams ...

Sunday, 29 December 2013

NFL Week 17 Picks 2013 (December 29)

The Christmas period is always a busy time of the year with friends and family to meet and greet and that means this Week 17 post is only concentrating on the picks from the games.

Last week was another disappointing one, although it was the change in the final minute of the New Orleans-Carolina game that made it a bigger loss than it should perhaps have been. Week 17 is one that you have to tread carefully through, but hopefully I can end the regular season on a positive note and then get set for the Play Offs.

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins Pick: The Miami Dolphins have to win this game if they are to make the Play Offs, although they also can make it with a loss for the Baltimore Ravens and a win for the San Diego Chargers. In fact, there are a number of different permutations for the Dolphins to get into the Play Offs, although the one that makes the most sense is finding a way to win this game.

With the 'must win' nature of the game, the layers are taking no chances with the Miami price, although I do feel they may be giving the Dolphins too many points to cover. As well as the Dolphins have done at times this season, their Offensive Line could have a big issue in trying to contain the pressure that the Jets bring up front and that may lead to drives faltering and a lot of punts as it did for Miami last weekend in Buffalo.

Geno Smith and the New York Jets Offense hasn't been as effective on the road though and that is a concern. However, they have been pounding the ball on the ground with decent results over the last three weeks, while the Miami pass Defense has just faltered a little bit of late which could give Smith the chance to find Receivers downfield.

Smith will be under pressure from the Miami pass rush though, so their own drives may also be curtailed at times by sacks and tackles for loss in the backfield, but either way, the 6.5 point head start for the road team looks hard to ignore.

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers Pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers really need to catch lightning in a bottle if they are to make it back into the Play Offs this season as they need to win this game and have Baltimore, Miami and San Diego all lose.

The Steelers never recovered from their 0-4 start, although they have made a good fist of it, and I still think they can end the season with some positives by getting back to 0.500 with a win over the Cleveland Browns.

Pittsburgh have found a nice way to get their Offense going and I think they will have a lot of success against a Browns Defense that has lost their way in recent weeks. Joe Haden is expected to sit which will give Antonio Brown more room to make his plays, while the Cleveland run Defense has worn down which should give Le'Veon Bell a chance to have a big game.

I expect Josh Gordon will make his yards too, even with Jason Campbell throwing to him, but the Browns have struggled down the stretch. If they catch the same form that pushed New England all the way, this could be close, but Cleveland have fallen apart too often and I like the Steelers in this one.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: Baltimore 'must win' this game if they are to make the Play Offs, although they also need some help from elsewhere if they are to have a chance to continue defending their Super Bowl title going into January.

The Ravens survived a Week 15 game at Detroit thanks to Justin Tucker's 61 yard Field Goal, but they were pummelled by New England at home last week and won't be playing a team resting their starters in this game. Joe Flacco is hurt and the Offense has been out of sync for most of the season and that doesn't bode well against a Bengals team that has been much stronger at home than on the road.

Baltimore will look to their Defense to try and keep this a close game but they won't win unless they are more effective in the red zone where they have settled for too many Field Goals in place on Touchdowns. If the Ravens can slow the Cincinnati rushing attack, they should have an opportunity to make plays through the air thanks to the pass rush pressure they should be able to get on Andy Dalton.

This again looks like a game where the road team is perhaps being given too many points and I will take those for a small interest.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears Pick: If this game was going to be played indoors, I could see the teams combining for over 80 points between them, but the weather conditions for Chicago on Sunday call for snow and wind.

That might not be enough to slow down either Offense though as neither Defense has shown an ability to slow down teams rushing the ball and I think Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte are both going to have the chance to have huge games for their respective teams.

The weather conditions may at least give the Defensive units the chance to load the box a little more and keep the running attack contained, but there are plenty of weapons in the passing game and it would take a lot of guts, or naivety, to allow the likes of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and the returning Randall Cobb room to manoeuvre in man coverage.

That is especially true now that Aaron Rodgers is back for the Green Bay Packers and I have a feeling that he has been itching to get back on the field for at least two weeks. Rodgers is someone who will come out with a point to prove, as he has shown in the past by not letting go where he was drafted.

I also believe in Rodgers to not make the mistakes that could be critical in a game where both Offenses should be able to move the chains and I can't say the same about Jay Cutler. Cutler has been bailed out in a game at Cleveland when he made mistakes early and this is the kind of game he would make big mistakes and cost the Bears their place in the Play Offs.

Green Bay's red zone Offense hasn't been as effective as Chicago's, no matter who has started at Quarter Back, which is a concern, but I like the Packers to be too good and win this game.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots Pick: The New England Patriots should be able to secure a top two seed in the AFC on Sunday afternoon as they entertain a Buffalo Bills team that may still be patting themselves on the back for potentially ruining the season for the Miami Dolphins.

There is no doubt that the Bills would love to play spoiler for the Patriots too and make life difficult for the latter when it comes to trying to win the Super Bowl, but it would also be foolish to ignore the fact that Buffalo haven't been as good on the road. They have won at Miami and Jacksonville, but also blown out fairly convincingly by Pittsburgh and New Orleans and I would place New England in the company of the latter teams.

It won't always be a straight-forward game for New England as their Offense might find it harder to move the chains with the pressure that Buffalo will bring against Tom Brady. However, I am expecting them to establish a running attack that will slow down that pass rush just enough to give Brady a chance to find his Receivers.

As hard as it could be for New England, I also think Buffalo will struggle with Thad Lewis at Quarter Back, particularly if the Patriots can continue to play the run effectively. Keeping Lewis in third and long will only lead to mistakes that New England can capitalise on and force punts or turnovers.

The Patriots have everything to gain in this game and I think they will prove too strong for Buffalo and I do like them to cover the spread.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints Pick: You would have to have had your head buried in the sand not to know that the New Orleans Saints team is not as good on the road as they are at home, but they will still be kicking themselves for losing the game in Carolina in the manner they did.

That means the Saints fans will be cheering for their hated rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, in the early kick off to give New Orleans the chance to finish with the Number 2 seed in the Conference, although there is still a big motivation to win this game just to enter the sweepstakes of the post-season.

New Orleans have been much more effective at home where they have failed to score fewer than 23 points all season, reaching at least 31 points in 6 of their last 7 games in this Dome. Contrast that with failing to put up more than 17 points in any of their last 4 games on the road and I expect a better performance from the Offense this week and I do believe they will put up a number of points against this Defense.

As well as the Buccaneers have played on that side of the ball recently, that was against much lesser Quarter Backs than Drew Brees who will be able to get the ball to his play-makers, be it Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles or Kenny Stills.

I do also think Tampa Bay will have success against a banged up Secondary, although Mike Glennon has to avoid the pressure brought by the pass rush if they are to have success. It will also be a big help if Bobby Rainey can get something going on the ground against a Saints Defense that has struggled to contain the running attack in recent weeks.

However, I don't believe the Buccaneers can have sustained success and I figure them to lose a high scoring game in which they fail to get the cover.

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders Pick: The Denver Broncos have motivation and an Offense that should give them a very good chance of covering this large spread against the Oakland Raiders. Since Peyton Manning arrived, Denver have won each game against Oakland by at least 13 points per game and the way the Oakland Defense has played of late suggests that streak will be extended to at least four games.

It is boring to go over what this Denver Offense should be able to do as they have put up big points through the season and have so many weapons, even without Wes Welker. Oakland have given up almost 40 points per game in their last 3 games and I think Denver will get into the 30's again at the very least unless pulling starters late in the game.

The key for Oakland to keep this game competitive is whether they can have success running the ball, the power of this Offense, to keep Manning off the field for long periods. The Raiders might have some success with this game plan, but Denver put up points so quickly that even those drives may not be enough to help the Raiders cover in this one.

Denver seem to have too much motivation and too much Offensive power for Oakland in this game and I like them to cover the big spread.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: This game looked to be the deciding one in the NFC East for a little while now and it is a shame that Tony Romo will not be able to go for the Dallas Cowboys, although I also feel a lot of people are disregarding Kyle Orton far too early.

We all know how bad the Dallas Defense has been all season and injuries to the likes of Sean Lee are really hard to overcome, but this is a game where the whole team will look to rally one more time. They also have seen this Offense once before and proved they can slow it down somewhat, although the Defense has more injuries since then and Philadelphia have certainly improved.

Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy will have their success in the game, but I think people are too quick to overlook the match up problems that the likes of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will cause on the other side. Kyle Orton has to prove that he has been worth the money paid to him to be the back up and this is the reason he has been paid so much.

Must win games over the years haven't favoured the favourites too much in this situation, while home underdogs have found a way to cover the spread. I can see the Cowboys rallying around their back up Quarter Back and making big plays on both sides of the ball at times, although I think they may fall short in actually winning the game.

Either way, the almost Touchdown head start they are getting looks far too much for this game and I like the Cowboys with the points.

MY PICKS: New York Jets + 6.5 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 6.5 Points @ 1.83 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Baltimore Ravens + 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Green Bay Packers - 3 Points @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
New England Patriots - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints - 11 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Denver Broncos -10 Points @ 1.95 Coral (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys + 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Week 16: 4-6, - 4.23 Units
Week 152-6, - 5.32 Units
Week 145-4, + 0.54 Units
Week 136-4-1, + 3.65 Units
Week 126-4, + 1.43 Units
Week 116-2, + 7.59 Units
Week 104-4, + 0.86 Units
Week 92-5, - 4.24 Units
Week 85-3, + 4.64 Units
Week 77-2, + 5.70 Units
Week 62-7, - 8.15 Units
Week 54-4, + 0.35 Units
Week 47-1, + 9.27 Units
Week 33-4-1, - 1.10 Units
Week 26-1, + 6.46 Units
Week 15-6, - 3.50 Units

Season 201374-63-2, + 13.95 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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