2014 - 2015 Wild Card Weekend NFL ATS Picks
Week 17 Review (Week 2-3, Season 39-46, All Time 142-125-2)
Week 17 was more like the first half of the season than the last quarter, as we finished with a 2-3 record against the spread. Some of that performance had to do with picking a team that wasn't actively trying to win (New England Patriots), some of that had to do with being wrong about a team (New Orleans Saints), and some of that had to do with just down right bad performances (Detroit Lions). If anything, Week 17 was symbolic of the larger season which was a disappointment following our two previous seasons of stellar performance. Though the regular season is over, we still have an opportunity to break even in the playoffs.
Wildcard Weekend Picks
Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 vs Baltimore Ravens
At points this season, these two teams have looked like contenders. However, both teams have also looked completely beatable. Baltimore has had a nice balance on offense, but is incredibly weak in its defensive secondary, while Pittsburgh is explosive but inconsistent on offense. Ultimately, this game could go either way depending on which versions of these two teams show up, but we believe that Roethlisberger and Brown will be overwhelming for the Baltimore secondary, and that pressure will ultimately throw an otherwise balanced Baltimore offense out of rhythm as it tries to keep up. We like Pittsburgh to win at home.
Arizona Cardinals +6.5 @ Carolina Panthers
These two teams seem to be heading in opposite directions. Arizona is imploding with Lindley at the helm, while Carolina is rising rapidly on the back of a resurgent defense. However, we believe that these recent performance trends have to do entirely with scheduling. In the last 6 weeks, Arizona has played 4 highly competitive NFC West opponents, including perhaps the best team in the league twice. Conversely, Carolina's 4 game winning streak has come against 3 weak NFC South opponents and a hapless Browns team. Throughout the season, we have taken the bait when an NFC South opponent has gone a great run against an easy slate of in-division opponents and while we recognize that Arizona has regressed, we aren't buying this Carolina team in the slightest. We like Arizona to win on the road.
Detroit Lions +7 @ Dallas Cowboys
Early in the year, we were quick to believe in this Dallas team. We were also, very quick to jump off of it. Overall, Dallas is better than we or anyone else could have predicted at the beginning of the season. At the end of the day however, we believe that Dallas still has some serious questions on defense. Though Detroit has been severely disappointing on offense this year, we believe they will build on their recent positive performances and sustain a few drives in this game. If the defense can stop Murray and make Dallas one-dimensional, Detroit will have a great chance to win this game.
Indianapolis Colts -3.5 vs Cincinnati Bengals
This game has all the makings of an upset. Cincinnati is a strong Wildcard team from a significantly better division. Schematically, their strengths and weaknesses line up nicely with those of Indianapolis. However, at the end of the day, Indianapolis has one gleeming advantage--Andrew Luck. The Indianapolis defense gets eviscerated by good QBs, but eviscerates bad ones, so Andy Dalton may lose this game before it starts, but regardless of which version of Andy Dalton shows up on Sunday, we believe Andrew Luck will be able to put up points. For this reason, we like Colts to win and move on to the divisional round.