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Against the Spread

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Wild Card Picks

Friday, January 06, 2012


Ed Williams and Jeff Baldwin picked against the spread all season long in Rotoworld's Season Pass, and now they're keeping things going in the playoffs. Despite having similar records, Jeff beat Ed by a hefty margin in terms of units, so Ed's looking for some revenge. They'll start out with 1,000 units to use during the playoffs. They will have to use a minimum of 25 units on each game during the first two rounds but can only use a maximum of 200 units per round. In the Championship round, they'll be picking both games as well as the over/unders. For this round they'll have to use a minimum of 50 units on each pick with a maximum of 300 units for the round. And for the Super Bowl they'll pick the game, the over/under and two props. They'll have to use a minimum of 50 units and a maximum of 200 units on each pick and will have a 400-unit max for the round. With all of that out of the way, let's get to the picks!

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-3)


Ed:
The Houston Texans have finally made the playoffs but they’re limping in after suffering three straight losses to finish the season. Rookie third string QB T.J. Yates suffered a separated shoulder last week, but he’ll be under center Saturday. With Yates not at 100%, Houston will have to rely even more heavily on Arian Foster and Ben Tate, but the Bengals will be ready for that.  The Bengals won’t be able to stop the rushing attack completely, but they should be able to hold them in check enough to stymie plenty of drives. Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton is having some issues of his own as he was hospitalized with the flu. It won’t be anything that will keep him out of the game, but he has missed out on some valuable practice time. This one will be a low-scoring affair, but in the end, Dalton has had a lot more time to develop chemistry with his teammates and rookie WR A.J. Green could be the difference-maker. In what should be a nip-tuck game, take the points.
Bengals +3: 50 units

Jeff: The Bengals visit the Texans in a rematch from Week 14 in which TJ Yates' TD pass to Kevin Walter with two seconds left gave them the victory, 20-19. Even after leaving last week’s game with a separated left shoulder against the Titans, TJ Yates will start on Saturday. Look for the Texans to lean heavily on Arian Foster and Ben Tate as they won’t ask their rookie QB to do too much. Ray Rice shredded the Bengals' defense last week, and I expect Foster to have similar success. Andre Johnson, who missed the last matchup due to injury, will be back in the lineup this weekend, which will only help Yates' confidence when he needs to make a play through the air. The Texans' defense will come up big as they’ll put a ton of pressure on Andy Dalton. The Bengals finished 0-6 against playoff teams this year. I expect that trend to continue on Saturday.
Texans -3: 100 units

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-10.5)

Ed: These two teams met back in Week 13 and the Lions were overmatched. They were without Ndamukong Suh, and the Saints were able to deem Calvin Johnson a non-factor. The following week, Matthew Stafford started forcing the ball to Calvin Johnson even when he was double and triple covered, and all of a sudden the Lions started looking like the offensive juggernaut that started the season 5-0. The Saints do have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL, but 10.5 points is a lot. The Saints should win this one, but the Lions should be able to keep up with them enough this time to keep it within one touchdown.
Lions +10.5: 25 units

Jeff:
The Lions head to New Orleans in a rematch off their Week 13 game in which the Saints won by 14. The Lions will be healthier this time around as they will have Ndamukong Suh (suspension), Chris Houston and Louis Delmas back on the field. There’s obviously no question how explosive the Saints' offense is, especially at home, but the Lions' offense can hold their own and stay close with the Saints. I think if the Lions can get a pass rush on Drew Brees and disrupt their flow on a few drives, this game can get really interesting. The Lions did outscore the Saints 10-7 in the second half of their first matchup, which shows they have the ability to stay with this team in their building. Not many people are giving the Lions a chance in this game, which makes me like grabbing the double digit points here even more. I don’t think the Lions will win outright, but I can see them falling short by a TD.
Lions +10.5: 25 units

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-3)

Ed: The Giants have been an up and down team all season, but they’re riding a hot streak, winning three of their last four and seem to be peaking at the right time. The defensive line has been tremendous and should be able to put pressure on Matt Ryan all day long. Eli Manning is playing the best football of his career, and Victor Cruz has given him another big-play threat to go along with Hakeem Nicks. The running game hasn’t been as good as in year’s past, but Big Blue should be able to overcome that. The Falcons are 10-6, but only one of those wins has come against a playoff team (Lions). Every time you think they’re rounding into form they lay an egg, and that will happen again Sunday. Matt Ryan has plenty of weapons with Roddy White, Julio Jones and even Tony Gonzalez, but Atlanta is a different team on the road. I don’t think the Giants will run away with this one, but they’ll be able to cover a field goal.
Giants -3: 75 units

Jeff: The Giants come off an impressive victory against the Cowboys and captured the NFC East title. The Giants pass rush was relentless, which included sacking Tony Romo six times. The Falcons got back on the winning track after getting torched by the Saints. Matt Ryan has great weapons in Roddy White and Julio Jones that can cause major problems for the Giants' secondary. The key to this game will be the Giants' ability to put pressure on Matt Ryan. If Ryan is allowed time to throw, he will make big plays. Look for the Giants to put enough pressure on him to disrupt their passing game and come up with some key defensive stops. I also think the Falcons will struggle running the ball with Michael Turner. The Falcons aren’t the same team on the road. On average, they score 10 less points on the road then they do at home. The Giants will also struggle running the ball against the Falcons who are ranked sixth against the rush in the NFL. They will need to lean heavily on Eli Manning, as they have all season, to make big plays in the passing game to both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. The Giants' offensive line will give Manning time to throw as he leads the Giants to the second round of the playoffs.
Giants -3: 50 units

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (+9)

Ed: Despite playing like one of the worst quarterback the NFL has ever seen over the last few games, Tim Tebow and the Broncos have stumbled into the playoffs. Since they won the AFC West, they do have home field advantage, and the already banged up Steelers are forced to sit safety Ryan Clark due to a health issue that can be aggravated by the Mile High air. Rashard Mendenhall is out with a torn ACL, and QB Ben Roethlisberger won’t be 100% with an ankle sprain. The Steelers are banged up just enough that a solid Broncos’ defense should be able to keep this one close. While Tebow has looked atrocious of late, you can’t discount some of the miraculous wins he’s pulled off this season, many of which were at home. The Steelers have struggled to dominate teams on the road this season, as evidenced by their 4-point win over the Browns last week. They should win this game, but it will be closer than it should be, so take the points.
Broncos +9: 50 units

Jeff:
The Steelers head to Denver looking to make another deep playoff run. Ben Roethlisberger suffered a minor setback to his ankle injury last week against the Browns. He hasn’t looked himself since the injury, and without his mobility in the pocket, he loses a strong facet to his game. Losing Rashard Mendenhall to a season-ending injury hurts, but I don’t think it is as big of a loss as people think. Isaac Redman has proven he can produce given the opportunity. The last three Steelers road games have included a loss to SF, and two four point victories against the Chiefs and Browns. Their offense hasn’t been putting up many points. The Broncos made the playoffs by capturing the AFC West title even after losing their last three games. Their offense hasn’t done much, and now they face the Steelers' defense.  I think this is a low-scoring, defensive battle. Even with the Broncos' inept offense, I think this is too many points given the Steelers propensity to play close games on the road. I think the Steelers win this game, but won’t run away with it. I can see a 17-9 final score.
Broncos +9: 25 units






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