Ed Williams III

Against the Spread

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Wild Card Picks

Friday, January 04, 2013

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. Ed ended up with more units for the season, but Jeff had a better winning percentage, so they'll be looking to settle the score in the postseason. 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!

For more picks, follow Jeff Baldwin on Twitter

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-4.5)

Ed: This one is very tough to call. On paper, the Texans have a far superior team in terms of talent. Earlier in the season it looked like Houston was going to cruise to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But after starting 11-1, the Texans dropped three of their last four. All three losses were to playoff teams, but they certainly don’t look like the same team that annihilated the Ravens in Week 7. Matt Schaub just doesn’t look like himself lately, and that’s cause for major concern. Then again, the Texans were able to beat the Bengals last year in the playoffs with T.J. Yates under center. The Bengals’ defense has been superb down the stretch, though, and could force Schaub into some mistakes. Leon Hall has stepped things up in the secondary and Geno Atkins has been a beast on the defensive line with 12.5 sacks. But much like how I loved going against Ponder in the Vikings-Packers game, I don’t trust Andy Dalton in a playoff game. He threw three interceptions against the Texans in last year’s Wild Card matchup, and has thrown only four touchdowns compared to five interceptions in his last five games. This team has been led down the stretch by the defense, but Dalton will have to make plays in this one, and I don’t think that’s a good bet. I don’t think the Texans can reclaim thei
r early-season form, but they can do enough to get to the next round. I’d prefer if this was just a three-point spread, but I’ll still lay the points.
Texans -4.5: 25 units

Jeff:  In a rematch from last year's playoffs, the Bengals visit the struggling Texans as QB Matt Schaub looks to get his team back on track after dropping two straight. The Bengals come into this game winners of seven out of their last eight. During this stretch, their defense has only allowed 13 points per game. These two teams are clearly heading in opposite directions. I like the Bengals in this matchup. QB Andy Dalton has played well all year, and I think that will continue this weekend. In order for the Bengals to have a shot to win outright, WR A.J. Green must have a great game. Look for Dalton to get Green involved early and often. The Bengals' defense's focus will be to contain RB Arian Foster. They were unable to do this last year when Foster burned them for 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns. I think the Bengals will do a much better job in limiting his effectiveness on the ground. Look for the Bengals to pressure QB Matt Schaub, disrupting him and not allowing the Texans' offense get into any type of rhythm. The Bengals are one of the league leaders in sacks this year with 51. I haven't seen any signs the Texans break out of their slump. I'll go with the team playing better football right now. 
Bengals +4.5: 100 units

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)

Ed: I don’t like going against Adrian Peterson, but I absolutely love going against Christian Ponder on the road in the playoffs against a team he’ll be forced to throw against. No matter how good Peterson is running, he can’t play defense and stop Green Bay’s high-octane passing attack. Aaron Rodgers should have a full complement of receivers, and even if Jordy Nelson isn’t 100%, getting Randall Cobb back is a huge boost. The Packers put up 34 points against the Vikings just last week with Cobb out of the lineup. Greg Jennings has had a few games back to get his NFL legs back and should be ready for another big game as well. The Packers defense is also getting healthier. Clay Matthews returned from a hamstring injury in Week 15 and should be ready for a big game, and Charles Woodson will finally get back on the field this week after suffering a broken collarbone. Last week the Vikings needed another superhuman effort from Peterson and an almost flawless game from Ponder just to eke out a win in overtime. While Peterson is capable of repeating that performance, Ponder is not. Not only will he be on the road, but he’ll be outdoors in the cold, harsh condition of Lambeau Field. I expect at least a couple of interceptions from him as he’ll be forced to throw the ball to try and keep pace with Rodgers. I think Minnesota will keep this close for a little while, but the Packers will eventually pull away.
Packers -7.5: 75 units

Jeff: These teams square off again as the Vikings kicked a late field goal a week ago to defeat the Packers and clinch a Wild Card berth. The main difference in this game will be that it is being played at Lambeau Field. The Packers will have to do a better job containing RB Adrian Peterson. However, it is tough to think that anyone can slow Peterson down right now. He has rushed for a total of 409 yards in their two matchups this season. QB Christian Ponder played well last weekend making big plays at crucial points of the game. I expect him to continue his solid play. In their first meeting at Green Bay, Ponder threw two red zone interceptions in the second half, which sealed their fate. If he protects the ball better, this game should go down to the wire. The Packers will get a boost on both sides of the ball as both WR Randall Cobb and safety Charles Woodson are expected to play Saturday night. The Vikings will give the Packers all they can handle, but in the end, I think QB Aaron Rodgers will be the difference as he won't let the Packers lose at home. Packers win this game but only by a touchdown.
Vikings +7.5: 25 units

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7)

Ed: The Ravens have lost four of their last five games. The Colts have won five of their last six games. Indianapolis just knocked off a struggling, but extremely talented, Texans team that had a bye to play for in the season finale. Andrew Luck has made plenty of rookie throws this season, but he’s also looked like a seasoned veteran down the stretch of plenty of games when it counts the most. Luck has rejuvenated Reggie Wayne’s career, and he’s developed a great rapport with fellow rookie T.Y. Hilton. Vick Ballard has even provided a stable presence in the backfield to give the offense some balance. Both teams will have some added motivation in this one. The Ravens will be fired up after learning about Ray Lewis’ retirement plans for after the postseason, while the Colts have the inspiring presence of head coach Chuck Pagano back on the sidelines. This one will likely come down to how Joe Flacco plays. Outside of a dominating performance against the Giants a couple of weeks ago, Flacco has looked very shaky at times. This one has a good chance to be a shootout, and I think it will be decided by a field goal either way. Seven points just seems like too much to give up to a hot team like the Colts.
Colts +7: 75 units

Jeff: The Colts played inspired football last week in defeating the Texans as their head coach Chuck Pagano returned to the sideline. They will look to build off that win as they travel to Baltimore to take on the AFC North champs. The Ravens stumble into this game after losing four out of their last five games, but they seemed to have turned things around when they blew out the Giants in Week 16. RB Ray Rice sat out Week 17 to rest and prepare for this first round matchup. I'm expecting a tremendous game from Rice both on the ground and in the passing game. I think he will be the difference in this game. QB Joe Flacco will have a solid outing as he will look to wide receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin to make plays down the field. Kick returner Jacoby Jones will give the Ravens favorable field position all game. I wouldn't be surprised if he returned a kick for a touchdown, too. In what should be a high-scoring game, expect QB Andrew Luck to be solid like he has been all year. I think this contest is tight throughout, but in the end, I see the Ravens pulling away in the second half, ending any hopes the Colts have of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Ravens -7: 50 units

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins (+3)
Ed: There’s no team hotter than the Redskins as they’ve won seven in a row after starting 3-6 to win the NFC East and sneak into the playoffs. And while teams that get hot late have a history of making deep runs in the playoffs, I don’t think the Seahawks will allow that to happen. Seattle has the fourth-ranked defense in the entire NFL, and while RGIII is pretty impossible to game-plan for, the Seahawks’ defense is well-rounded enough to at least slow him down. While he hasn’t been as explosive as RGIII, fellow rookie QB Russell Wilson has grown leaps and bounds over the course of the season and is now orchestrating a very complete offense. He’s thrown 26 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions, so I don’t expect him to make many mistakes in this one. The Redskins’ defense has really improved down the stretch, but it won’t be enough. The Redskins are great against the run, but Marshawn Lynch will still be able to do some damage and open things up for Wilson. Wilson’s ability to keep plays alive with his legs will allow some big plays to develop downfield. And while the Redskins are hot, the Seahawks are on a five-game winning streak of their own. Add in that several of the players on this team have playoff experience from two years ago when they shocked the Saints in the Wild Card round, I’m going to lay the points on the road.
Seahawks -3: 25 units

Jeff: The surging Seahawks head to Washington D.C. to face QB Robert Griffin III and the NFC East champion Redskins. The Seahawks are on a roll as they have won seven out of their last eight. The scary part is they are getting healthier too. The Redskins held on to defeat the Cowboys to win their division. The key piece to this matchup is the health of RGIII.  He didn't look 100% healthy last week, which I think will put the Redskins at a disadvantage going against a Seahawks defense that puts immense pressure on the quarterback. Offensively for Seattle, look for QB Russell Wilson to be effective through the air against the vulnerable Redskins secondary which ranks close to last in the league in passing yards allowed per game. RB Marshawn Lynch will have his usual solid outing rushing for over a 100 yards and a score. RGIII and RB Alfred Morris will make enough plays to keep this game tight throughout. However, I think a late Seahawks touchdown propels them to victory.  The Seahawks will advance to the next round as they get a tough, hard-fought victory on the road.
Seahawks -3: 25 units

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