Posts Tagged ‘NFL Picks’

Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl 47 Predictions, Keys to Game, Picks

January 21st, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl 47 Predictions, Keys to Game, Picks
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Ravens Super BowlThey didn’t take the easiest road in the world to get here, but the Baltimore Ravens have made it to the Super Bowl for the second time in their franchise’s history. They’ll get a chance to claim their second ever Lombardi Trophy on February 3rd, but they have a long road to climb to be able to get to that point. Check out our Super Bowl keys to the game and what the Ravens needs to do to beat the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.

Click Here For The 2013 NFL Playoff Bracket, the 2013 NFL Playoffs Schedule, and all of our NFL Playoff Game Previews

#4 Baltimore Ravens vs. #2 San Francisco 49ers
Superbowl 47 Location: Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Superbowl Date/Time: Sunday, February 3rd, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
Superbowl TV Coverage: CBS

Key #1: Joe Flacco has to come up with one more “elite” game
We’ve had this one drilled down our throats for weeks, months… and heck, even years! QB Joe Flacco isn’t an elite quarterback. We know this. All we have to do is look at the way that he stands in the pocket, the way that he ultimately plays under pressure from time to time, and his numbers, and we know that he isn’t the second coming of John Elway or Joe Montana. However, what Flacco is, is a winner. He has brought his team to the playoffs for five straight seasons, has won at least one playoff game for five straight seasons, has made it to the AFC Championship Game three times in the last four years, and now, he has his team just one game away from the Lombardi Trophy. Something different has happened this time around, though. Flacco is actually outplaying some of these truly “elite” quarterbacks. QB Tom Brady looked like a chump in the second half of the AFC Championship Game in comparison to Flacco, while the week before, Flacco was throwing big time passes, while QB Peyton Manning was busy getting picked off in overtime. The former first round pick of the Ravens has thrown for 853 yards and eight TDs over the course of his last games here in the postseason. Sure, some of it was luck, and sure, had that 70-yard floating pass not found its way into the hands of WR Jacoby Jones, we’d probably still be talking about Flacco as the man that has never won the big game in his career. But now, Flacco can say that he is a winner. He has been in the Super Bowl. And with one more game with the stats of an elite quarterback, there might be no way to avoid putting Joe Cool in the same discussion with Brady and Manning.

Key #2: Torrey Smith has to find space deep in the San Fran secondary
The 49ers can be had in their secondary, and we have seen it time and time again over the course of the last few weeks. They allowed WR Julio Jones to catch 11 passes for 182 yards and two TDs against the Atlanta Falcons, and he hasn’t nearly been the only receiver of late to make some big plays happen against these 49ers. Roddy White did it (7 catches, 100 yards). James Jones did it (4 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD). Michael Floyd did it with Brian Hoyer throwing him the football (8 catches, 166 yards, 1 TD). Brandon Lloyd did it, too (10 catches, 190 yards). Four of these five names all share the same thing in common: They aren’t No. 1 receivers on their own teams. In fact, short of the NFC Championship Game, there really aren’t any top targets that have beaten up the Niners. It’s always been the No. 2 or No. 3 guy in the pecking order. Smith is that type of receiver, and he is a man that can get up the field in a hurry. It isn’t a prerequisite for him to score, and he doesn’t even have to have one of these games where he catches 10 passes for 130 yards. Smith just needs to break through the 49ers in the back end a time or two over the course of the game, and the passing game could really open up.

Superbowl 47 Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
Baltimore Ravens +4
San Francisco 49ers -4
Over/Under 48.5
Click Here to Bet Your Ravens vs. Ravens Picks!

Key #3: The offensive line has to keep Aldon Smith out of the backfield
The best games that the 49ers have had this year have seemingly all involved big outings from LB Aldon Smith. The man from Mizzou had 19.5 sacks this year, and in games in which he logged at least one sack, the team allowed 13.1 points per game. In games in which Smith doesn’t get a sack, which now includes five games in a row, the Niners have conceded 24.6 points per game, and they certainly have looked beatable. Of course, we know that there are some fallacies in there, as Smith is getting more attention and room is opening up for some of the other members of the front seven to get to the quarterback. However, this is a real key in this game. When the Ravens were struggling at their worst this year, they were allowing men like DE JJ Watt or DE Von Miller wreak havoc on Flacco and the offense. If the offensive line and the combination of tight ends and FB Vonta Leach can figure out how to put a hat on Smith, it’s going to make life a heck of a lot easier for this offense for the whole game.

Key #4: The defense has to confuse Colin Kaepernick
It is clear that the more time that QB Colin Kaepernick has to throw the ball and get into space, the more likely he is to make the big time play to burn the Baltimore defense. We have seen that time and time again. Teams just underestimate how fast this guy really is, and in the end, he has blown just about every unit he has faced up, especially here in the playoffs. However, Kaepernick isn’t without his struggles, and he has made some young mistakes. There isn’t a defense that has more ornate schemes than this Baltimore ‘D’, especially with two weeks to game plan for the mobile quarterback. Though the Atlanta defense didn’t end up having the most success in the world, it was clear that it had a better chance to get off the field when Kaepernick was in the pocket than when he was out of it, but that doesn’t have to remain the case when push comes to shove. Remember that the pick six that Kaepernick threw against the Green Bay Packers at the outset of that game came while he was on the move, and he made a poor decision. Whatever it takes to make Kaepernick make some of those bad decisions, as rare as they are, is what will be the key factor here for Baltimore defensively.

Key #5: The emotion just can’t run out
If you really look at the talent level that the Ravens have been playing with and playing against over the course of the last several weeks, you have to think that they have just been overmatched. They certainly weren’t a more talented team than either New England or Denver, but they were able to persevere in spite of the fact, largely because of the emotions that are coming from the squad in purple. Oh sure, LB Ray Lewis’ pending retirement is helping the team ride that wave, as is the fact that the team has that “us against the world” mentality to it. However, there is always a danger, especially with the long layoff before this one kicks off, that any team is going to fall flat. The Ravens have to keep this intensity up for the next two weeks, because they are running into a very businesslike team in the 49ers that are going to be in the Bayou for business and business only, not a party. If that intensity isn’t high from the start of practice on Monday through the very last second of the Super Bowl, the Ravens are going to be in some trouble for sure, and they run the risk of getting their doors blown off.

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San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl 47 Predictions, Keys to Game, Picks

January 20th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl 47 Predictions, Keys to Game, Picks
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Super Bowl 49ersThe San Francisco 49ers became the first team to lock up a spot in Super Bowl 47 when they knocked off the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 at the Georgia Dome. Now, they’re playing in the biggest game of the season, and we are set to make our Superbowl predictions and picks.  In this article we’ll discuss the keys to the game; as in what the 49ers need to do to win the Super Bowl.

Click Here For The 2013 NFL Playoff Bracket, the 2013 NFL Playoffs Schedule, and all of our NFL Playoff Game Previews

#2 San Francisco 49ers vs. #4 Baltimore Ravens
Super Bowl 47 Location: Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
When is the Super Bowl?: Sunday, February 3rd, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
Super Bowl TV Coverage: CBS

Key #1: 49ers have to come out firing & let C.K. orchestrate the offense from the start.
Early in the Falcons game, it appeared that Jim Harbaugh & Greg Roman were trying to out-think Atlanta defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan.  It seemed as if the 49ers assumed that all the focus would be on Kaepernick’s running ability out of the pistol formation.  On the very first play, the 49ers came out of the huddle, showed the pistol formation, and than quickly switched to a power-i before running their first play.  Perhaps this was their way of saying, “We’ll do what we want”.  But, it didn’t fool Atlanta’s defense at all.  A hand-off to Gore resulted in Falcon defenders filling holes and swarming to the football.  Everyone knows the 49ers intend to run the football between the tackles, regardless of how well Kaepernick slinging the rock.  If the Niners coaching staff really wanted to throw the Falcon defense off-guard, a 5-wide receiver set along with a no-huddle offense from the start really would have done the trick.  The Falcons were playing the run on every play in the first quarter, and the 49ers were playing right into their hands.  Due to the quick three-and-outs, Kaepernick wasn’t able to get comfortable orchestrating the offense until he was allowed to hit some receivers in stride and make some check downs.  Baltimore is going to do everything they can to show that San Francisco’s highly touted offensive front isn’t going to push them around in the running game (and they are going to try to rattle the young gunslinger).  The Ravens will be very aggressive  in doing so.  Therefore, making sure C.K. gets into a rhythm throwing the football early is important.  Not only will it surprise the Ravens defense, but it will also open things up for the Gore/James/Kap running attack trifecta.  It will also allow them to use the Pistol more often later on in the game.  Making the older Ray Lewis run around a little bit, so that he’s huffing and puffing, rather than screaming, will do wonders for the 49ers offense.

Key #2: 49ers secondary has to communicate and avoid allowing big plays down the field.
The one knock against the 49ers over the course of the last few weeks is that they’ve been giving up some big plays down the field.  Early in the Falcons game, a blown assignment by the 49ers secondary allowed Julio Jones to catch a wide open TD.  The Ravens proved in the AFC Championship Game that they can score using the big play, as they got off quite a few big plays in the second half against the Patriots. Baltimore likes to run a modified hurry up, and it has the potential to get a heck of a lot of snaps off if the defense can’t get off the field. Keeping a close eye on WR Torrey Smith down the field and Anquan Boldin over the middle will be very important.  When playing against any elite defense, most teams that have a big arm quarterback are going to take their shots down the field; hoping they can either make a play or get a flag.  If the 49ers can bat these deep ball shots down, they will force the Ravens into some early 3rd and longs and some mistakes.

Super Bowl Betting Odds at WagerWeb Sportsbook
San Francisco 49ers -4
Baltimore Ravens +4
Over/Under 48.5
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Key #3: Someone has to get in the face of quarterback, Joe Flacco
Though we know that QB Joe Flacco has a history of being cool in the pocket, he has also had some games in which he has folded as well when he is under a lot of pressure. Matt Ryan was very comfortable early in the NFC Championship.  However, in the second half, they were able to get to him a little bit and force him into some mistakes.  Clearly the talent is there to get to Flacco.  DE Aldon Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the game and DT Justin Smith is a monster up front as well.  However, DT Isaac Sopoaga managed to get the only sack of the game against Atlanta. Two weeks ago, LB Patrick Willis had the only sack against QB Aaron Rodgers and the Pack. Aldon Smith, had 19.5 sacks in his first 13 games of the season, but has not recorded a single sack in his last five games.  He seems to get them in bunches as he recorded 11 sacks over a 4 game span in the midway point of the season. Regardless, it doesn’t have to be Smith, but someone had better get a hand in Flacco’s face and knock him around a little bit.

Key #4: Other receivers have to step up aside from Michael Crabtree
Head Coach John Harbaugh isn’t a fool by any stretch of the imagination. He knows that WR Michael Crabtree is going to get the ball thrown his way quite a bit, as Crabtree really is the only outstanding receiver that the team has at its disposal. The Texas Tech Red Raider caught 15 passes for 176 yards and two TD in the playoffs thus far.  He was largely blanketed by a bevy of Atlanta defensive backs in the NFC Championship (opening things up for a big game from Vernon Davis). No matter what the Baltimore defense throws at Crabtree, he’ll get his catches, but someone else has to step it up. Don’t discount guys like WR Randy Moss and TE Delanie Walke. Though the two only combined for four catches and 66 yards, they were all in clutch spots for the offense. It’s not a matter of getting 100 yards out of Davis, Moss, or anyone else in the lineup, it’s just that a few guys need to make a few big plays to help Kaepernick win his first Superbowl.

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Key #5: The 49ers’ front seven absolutely cannot miss tackles
RB Ray Rice is going to be coming and coming strong at the San Francisco defense, and he forces as many missed tackles of linebackers as any running back in the league with his low center of gravity. TE Dennis Pitta and WR Anquan Boldin also have the ability to bowling over unsuspecting members of the secondary to boot. San Fran is one of the best tackling teams in football, and it comes all over the field. This is the second straight year that Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has had his 49ers in the Top 5 in the league in tackles, and that has to hold true in the Super Bowl. If Rice is shaking tackles left and right, the Niners are going to be in some trouble. They have to continue to wrap up at the point of attack no matter who has the football. If they do that, Baltimore is going to have a heck of a time just trying to move the pigskin.

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Super Bowl Betting History: Historical Super Bowl Spreads & Lines

January 20th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on Super Bowl Betting History: Historical Super Bowl Spreads & Lines
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49ers vs. RavensIn order to make the most successful Super Bowl picks this year when the Baltimore Ravens meet the San Francisco 49ers, we really have to look at the past and pick out some of the best Super Bowl trends that are on the board. Here’s a glance at all of the Super Bowls in the past and some of the most notable things that we can point out heading into the biggest duel of the season.

Note: Teams highlighted in green were Super Bowl favorites

Super Bowl Scores

The first thing that we notice right away is that there are a ton of favorites on the Super Bowl odds that have taken down the biggest game of the year outright. Favorites are 33-13 SU over the course of the 46 Super Bowls coming into this season. There are seven Super Bowls in which the favorite has won the game outright, but has failed to cover the number, three of which have ended in a push. Half of the last six favorites that won the Super Bowl didn’t beat the Super Bowl betting lines, something that didn’t happen once for the first nine championship games. Interestingly enough though, the team that has been favored in the Super Bowl has lost three of the last five games outright, as well as from an ATS standpoint. Underdogs are 4-1 ATS in the last five Super Bowls.

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The Ravens and the 49ers have played in six combined Super Bowls, and they are a flat out awesome 6-0 SU in those games. The Ravens have only been in one Super Bowl in franchise history, beating the New York Giants in 2000. The 49ers have five Super Bowls to their credit, and they are going to be in the big one for the first time since way back in 1994. There is only one team in the history of the NFL that has a spotless Super Bowl record to this point that has been in the game more than one time, and that’s San Francisco. Regardless of whether it is San Fran or Baltimore that wins this game, the winner will take that distinction over of being the only undefeated team with more than one appearance in the Super Bowl. The 49ers have played in five Super Bowls, winning all five, going 4-1 ATS in those games. The only failed attempt at a cover came in 1989 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Baltimore’s Super Bowl against the Giants exceeded the ‘total’ easily. San Fran is 3-2 for ‘over’ bettors. If history holds for the 49ers, this should be a very high scoring game. In their five Super Bowl appearances, the 49ers have averaged outscoring their foes by the whopping score of 37.6-17.8, for an average of 55.4 points per game.

Since the Ravens moved from Cleveland, there hasn’t been a heck of a lot of history for these two teams against each other. The clubs have met just four times, with the 49ers going only 1-3 in those games. The teams have split the ATS proceedings. The most recent clash was last year on Thanksgiving Day night, a 16-6 win for John over Jim in the first ever Harbaugh Bowl, pitting the two brothers against one another. The 49ers have only scored 19 total points in three games against the Ravens since 2003, though only two of the four games have stayed beneath the ‘total’ that these two teams have ever played against each other.

2013 NFL Playoff Bracket w/ NFL Playoff Schedule & Predictions

January 20th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on 2013 NFL Playoff Bracket w/ NFL Playoff Schedule & Predictions
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2013 NFL PlayoffsThe 2013 NFL Playoffs are here, and here at Bankroll Sports, we are going to take a look at the 2013 NFL playoffs and make our Super Bowl 47 predictions. Don’t miss out, as our expert NFL handicappers take a look at all of the best teams in the league, which ones have a chance to go all the way, and which are still quite a ways away from getting the job done.

NFL Playoffs Bracket

Super Bowl 47
#2 San Francisco 49ers vs. #4 Baltimore Ravens

The 2013 Super Bowl 47 odds are set to go, and the 49ers and the Ravens are going to be involved in the Harbaugh Bowl. These two teams have both had long roads to get here to the Super Bowl, but they both did a remarkable job beating the NFL betting lines each and every step of the way. Baltimore had the significantly tougher road, beating the Colts, Broncos, and Patriots. They beat both Denver and New England on the road, and they did so in fine fashion both teams. Yes, one could make the argument that this team has gotten a bit lucky off of things like the tipped pass that was intercepted at the end of the AFC Championship Game and the 70-yard touchdown pass at Mile High to WR Jacoby Jones. On the other side of the field, we have the 49ers, who were favored in each of their last two games to get to this point. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh pushed all of the right buttons this year, especially when he decided to put QB Alex Smith on the bench in favor of the more nimble QB Colin Kaepernick. It seems like ancient history now though, as Kaepernick has torn up the Packers and the Falcons here in the second season. This should be a remarkable game between two teams that are 6-0 in the Super Bowl all-time between them.

Final NFL Playoff Picture (AFC Playoff Bracket)
1: Denver Broncos (13-3)
2: New England Patriots (12-4)
3: Houston Texans (12-4)
4: Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
5: Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
6: Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

AFC Playoff Schedule

AFC Wild Card Round
#5 Indianapolis Colts 9 @ #4 Baltimore Ravens 24 (Click Here For Colts @ Ravens Game Preview)
#6 Cincinnati Bengals 13 @ #3 Houston Texans 19 (Click Here For Bengals @ Texans Game Preview)

The first round of the playoffs is all set to go in the AFC, and the NFL matchups are quite intriguing. The 3/6 game between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals is a rematch of the first round matchup last year between these two clubs. The difference this year though, is that Houston really comes into the playoffs struggling, while Cincinnati is on a high, quite the opposite of what we saw last year. The Texans have lost three of their last four games, and they went from a surefire lock for the No. 1 seed in the AFC to having to play in Wild Card Weekend. Of course, the team is a lot healthier this year than it was a campaign ago as well, knowing that QB Matt Schaub, and not QB TJ Yates will be throwing the ball all over the place. Cincinnati though, has one of the best defensive lines in the game, and it learned a lot last year with its youngsters, QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green. These two are going to try to pull off the upset this weekend. Click Here For Cincinnati vs. Houston NFL Playoffs Preview

The other battle is a big one as well, as the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts will square off at M&T Bank Stadium. This is the third time that these two teams have met in the playoffs, and those meetings occurred three years ago and three years prior to that. The Colts won both games. QB Andrew Luck will be on center stage in this, his first career playoff game, and he is going to try to go on the road and get the job done against a Baltimore team that has a great history of playing in the second season. QB Joe Flacco and the gang feel like they have the talent to get back to the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year, but there are some real questions about this defense in the end. This unit ranked in the 20s in most of the major defensive categories this year, something that you never, ever saw with this unit in the last decade or so. Click Here For Indianapolis vs. Baltimore NFL Playoffs Preview

The road to the Super Bowl goes through Mile High this year, as the Denver Broncos will host either the Bengals if they win, or the Colts/Ravens winner if Cincinnati fails. Houston will visit the No. 2 New England Patriots with a win in the first round of the playoffs, but if that the Texans lose, the winner of the Indianapolis/Baltimore game will head to Foxboro instead.

AFC Divisional Round
#3 Houston Texans 28 @ #2 New England Patriots 41 (Click Here For Texans @ Patriots Game Preview)
#4 Baltimore Ravens 38 @ #1 Denver Broncos 35 (Click Here For Broncos @ Ravens Game Preview)

The Texans might have lost three of their final four games in the regular season, but they ultimately still made it to the second round of the playoffs anyway when they knocked off the Bengals 19-13. This terrible stretch for the team started in Foxboro against the Patriots, but if there is a measure of revenge, this would be the time for the franchise to get it. There is no bigger moment in the history of the Houston franchise than this, and an upset would mean worlds to the club to get to the AFC Championship Game. New England has to be happy to have had the week off, but Head Coach Bill Belichick knows that this won’t be the easiest game in the world. It’s going to be a massive mismatch to see QB Matt Schaub against QB Tom Brady, but the Houston defense has to prove that the last meeting of these two teams was a farce. Obviously though, Schaub has to get the ball into the end zone, something that he has only done once in the last five games. The Houston offense only has two total TDs in the last four games, and that isn’t going to cut it. Click Here For Houston @ New England NFL Playoffs Preview

We have another December rematch in the second round of the AFC playoffs as well when the Ravens take on the Broncos. That game wasn’t the prettiest for the visitors either, as the Ravens were beaten 34-17 in that game. What’s worse for Baltimore is that that game came at M&T Bank Stadium, and now, to keep its season going, it is going to have to go to the other side of the country and knock off the No. 1 team in the conference, fresh off of a bye week. QB Peyton Manning has accomplished a ton this year, but one of the games in which he really didn’t play at his best was the game against these Ravens. That being said though, he did play well and brought the team to the easy victory without much muss or fuss. We know that Manning can win games in the playoffs, but can he do it in Denver in an outdoor setting instead of doing it at home in the RCA Dome/Lucas Oil Stadium? That’s going to be the big time question that has to be answered. QB Joe Flacco hasn’t had a problem getting here in the playoffs, but he has had a problem winning these big time games against the best teams in the AFC. This very well could be the last game of this era of Ravens football, knowing that LB Ray Lewis is retiring when this season is over with, and Baltimore is a heavy underdog and is not expected to challenge. Click Here For Baltimore @ Denver NFL Playoffs Preview

AFC Championship Game
#4 Baltimore Ravens 28 @ #2 New England Patriots 13 (Click Here For Ravens @ Patriots Game Preview)

For the second straight year, the Ravens and the Patriots are going to be playing against each other with the Lamar Hunt Trophy on the line. The winner will move on to Super Bowl 47, while the loser will have a long offseason to figure out what went wrong. QB Tom Brady and his Patriots are looking for some payback after losing 31-30 at M&T Bank Stadium back in September in a game that was decided by a last-second field goal by K Justin Tucker. Baltimore though, still has some revenge on its mind as well from losing the AFC Championship Game last year in this very building. Remember that WR Lee Evans had what would have been the game-winning touchdown pass in his hands before dropping it, and there was no excuse for K Billy Cundiff to miss a 32-yard field goal that would have forced overtime. There is a ton of emotion that is going to go into this game. It could be LB Ray Lewis’ last game. It could send Brady to a sixth Super Bowl, which would tie an NFL record for all players and would break the record for the most starts for a quarterback in the Super Bowl. It could be the game that validates the career of QB Joe Flacco. Or it could be just another game where the Ravens end up falling short of the ultimate goal, further making them the choke artists of the league. This should be a great game in Foxboro on Sunday. Click Here For Baltimore @ New England NFL Playoffs Preview

Final NFL Playoff Picture (NFC Playoff Bracket)
1: Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
2: San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
3: Green Bay Packers (11-5)
4: Washington Redskins (10-6)
5: Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
6: Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

NFC Playoff Schedule

NFC Wild Card Round
#5 Seattle Seahawks 24 @ #4 Washington Redskins 14 (Click Here For Seahawks @ Redskins Game Preview)
#6 Minnesota Vikings 10 @ #3 Green Bay Packers 24 (Click Here For Vikings @ Packers Game Preview)

The NFC side of the playoffs took its twists and turns in Week 17, but matters are all set at this point. For the third time this season, and for the third time since the start of December, the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings are going to play against each other in the 3/6 game. RB Adrian Peterson will once again be the focal point, as he rushed for over 400 yards in two games against the Pack this year. Green Bay won the NFC North, earning the right to host this game, but it has to be smarting after losing last week at the Metrodome. The win put Minnesota into the second season and kept Green Bay from getting a first round bye. It’s a total mismatch between QB Aaron Rodgers and QB Christian Ponder, but these two teams played two great games against each other this year that could have gone either way. Click Here For Minnesota vs. Green Bay NFL Playoffs Preview

The Washington Redskins ended up earning the final playoff spot of the year by beating the Dallas Cowboys in the final Sunday Night Football game of the year, and now, they are going to reap the rewards. That was their seventh straight victory to end the season, and they needed that to win the NFC East. QB Robert Griffin III is clearly put together one of the best seasons that a rookie quarterback has ever had, but the man that he is going to be facing off against in this one, QB Russell Wilson threw for the most touchdowns in a single season for a rookie with 26. Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks really did a remarkable job this year, especially playing at home, where they ran the table and went 8-0. The problem? They went just 3-5 on the road, and they are going to have to win three more games on the road just to get to the Super Bowl. These two teams have played four straight games in Seattle in their meetings, including last year when the Skins pulled the upset. Click Here For Seattle vs. Washington NFL Playoffs Preview

The Atlanta Falcons have won the top seed in the NFC, and they are going to be waiting for the worst seed left remaining in the second season. Clear on the opposite coast, the San Francisco 49ers will be around to take on most likely the Packers, or the winner of the Seahawks/Redskins game.

NFC Divisional Round
#3 Green Bay Packers 31 @ #2 San Francisco 49ers 45 (Click Here For Packers @ 49ers Game Preview)
#5 Seattle Seahawks @ #1 Atlanta Falcons (Click Here For Seahawks @ Falcons Game Preview)

The second round of the playoffs will open up when the Packers and the 49ers do battle. This is a rematch of a Week 1 game that went the way of the Niners. However, QB Alex Smith was the quarterback in that one, and QB Colin Kaepernick is now the man calling the shots. The Packers were forced to throw the ball all game long, as they had to play the whole game from behind. This time around though, both of these teams are coming into the proceedings hot with a lot more on the line. There is going to be no degree of sneaking up on anyone. The winner of this one knows that it is going to have a good chance of hosting the NFC Championship Game, so the stakes are going to be even higher than they normally would be for a playoff game this early in the postseason. Click Here For Green Bay vs. San Francisco NFL Playoffs Preview

A Seattle team that is as hot as could be is going to take on an Atlanta team that has a god awful playoff history to start Sunday’s NFL playoffs action. The Seahawks have the second longest winning streak in the conference right now at six, and they have covered five of those six. The Falcons need a win in the playoffs more than any other team in the second saeson. They haven’t won a game since 2004 in the postseason, and QB Matt Ryan has a terrible history here in the playoffs. Seattle is the only team that went on the road and won a game in the playoffs in the first round, and it is going to have to fly from Seattle to DC back to Seattle and then to Atlanta for this one. It should be a very interesting game for sure, and it is expected to be the closest of the four playoff games in the Divisional Round of the playoffs Click Here For Seattle vs. Atlanta NFL Playoffs Preview

NFC Championship Game
#2 San Francisco 49ers 28 @ #1 Atlanta Falcons 24 (Click Here For 49ers @ Falcons Game Preview)

The 2013 NFC Championship Game should be a doozy this week. There aren’t many neutral NFL fans that would say that the Falcons are the better of the two teams that are going to be on the field. They do have home field advantage though, and that could go a long way, especially since the 49ers are playing a long way away from home. San Francisco has to get over the fact that it blew it in the NFC title game a campaign ago at home against the New York Giants, but this would be the way to get some sweet revenge. QB Colin Kaepernick put together one of the biggest games that a quarterback has ever had in a postseason game, especially for a quarterback that was making his postseason debut. That was at home, though. This one is on the road, and it comes in a hostile environment. The Falcons put together 30 minutes of championship football and 30 minutes of suspect football against the Seahawks. If we see the Falcons that played the first half against Seattle for the full 60 minutes, they’ll be in the Super Bowl. If we see the Falcons that played the second half against Seattle, this could be a brutal showing in the Georgia Dome, and all of the haters will be right back on the case of Head Coach Mike Smith and QB Matt Ryan. Click Here For San Francisco vs. Atlanta NFL Playoffs Preview

Ravens @ Patriots AFC Championship Game Predictions, Picks 1/20

January 13th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on Ravens @ Patriots AFC Championship Game Predictions, Picks 1/20
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AFC Championship GameThe 2013 NFL playoff picks are going to be difficult to make, and in this one, the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots are set to do battle with one another. Check out our Ravens vs. Patriots predictions and the keys to the AFC Championship Game for Baltimore vs. New England.

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#4 Baltimore Ravens @ #2 New England Patriots
Ravens vs. Patriots Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Ravens vs. Patriots Date/Time: Sunday, January 20th, 6:00 p.m. (ET)
Ravens vs. Patriots On TV: CBS

Key #1: The Ravens need to figure out how to keep from being on the field for 80+ snaps
There are only so many snaps that a defense can be on the field for. The Baltimore defense has been on the field for exactly 87 plays over the course of the last two weeks against the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. The team only allowed three field goals against the Colts, and though there were 35 points allowed to the Broncos, 14 of those points were allowed on special teams. Conceding 21 points in over five quarters on the road to the No. 1 team in the AFC is nothing to be ashamed of. Though emotion has gotten this team thus far, and LB Ray Lewis has been tremendous in his farewell tour, there is still only so much that can be asked of for a team that allowed 350.8 yards and 21.5 points per game this year. QB Tom Brady is the master of running play after play and taking advantage of a tired defense. He did it all last week against the Houston Texans, and he might be able to take advantage of that against the Ravens as well. New England ran 77 plays when these two teams met the first time. If it does that again, Baltimore is going to be in a heck of a lot of trouble. If the Ravens can get the job done on defense and keep control of the ball on the ground with RB Ray Rice, this could be a very interesting game.

Ravens @ Patriots Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
Baltimore Ravens +9
New England Patriots -9
Over/Under 51
Click Here to Bet Your Ravens vs. Patriots Picks!

Key #2: The Patriots have to get over all of their injuries
Brady might be healthy and ready to get back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year, but he doesn’t quite have the healthiest team in the world around him. TE Rob Gronkowski is out for the rest of the year with his second forearm injury of the campaign, and RB Danny Woodhead might be out of the lineup as well. Granted, last week, we saw RB Shane Vereen step up with three total touchdowns, and RB Stevan Ridley had himself a great game, too. Ridley only had 37 yards on 13 carries when these two teams met the first time around, and both Woodhead, RB Brandon Bolden, and WR Julian Edelman were the three offensive touchdown scorers. Bolden will likely have to suit if Woodhead sits, and Edelman’s season is said and done with. All of a sudden, there is a huge difference from entering last week’s game when the Pats were as healthy as they have been all season long, and now when they have a few vital injuries that could prove to be costly. Just about everyone is going to be on notice this week to get into the lineup for New England, and whomever it is that is out there is going to have to be at his best beat the Ravens.

Key #3: Joe Cool has to stay calm and continue to deliver the big time throws
QB Joe Flacco ended up with a raw deal last year. He is still looked upon as the man that is never going to take his team to a Lombardi Trophy, yet in the AFC Championship Game, he still played his heart out. On a day when RB Ray Rice and RB Ricky Williams combined for just 89 yards on 27 carries without a touchdown, and on a day where the weather was awful and the New England defense was swarming, Joe Cool threw for 306 yards and two TDs against one pick. What’s worse for Flacco is that he delivered the ball right on the money that would have won the game if it weren’t dropped by WR Lee Evans, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he would have won the game in overtime had K Billy Cundiff not missed that chip shot of a field goal attempt. Over the course of the last two weeks, Flacco has thrown for 613 yards and five TDs without tossing a pick, and the argument could be made that it is the best stretch of football that he has played in his entire career in the postseason. If that continues, the Ravens will have a shot at winning once again. If it doesn’t continue and Flacco resorts back into the quarterback that is largely known for blowing it when the games count the most, Baltimore has no chance.

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49ers vs. Falcons NFC Championship Game Picks, Predictions 1/20

January 13th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on 49ers vs. Falcons NFC Championship Game Picks, Predictions 1/20
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San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta FalconsThe 2013 NFL playoff picks are going to be difficult to make, and in this one, the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons are set to do battle with one another. Check out our 49ers vs. Falcons predictions and the NFC Championship Game keys to the game for San Francisco vs. Atlanta.

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#2 San Francisco 49ers @ #1 Atlanta Falcons
49ers vs. Falcons Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
49ers vs. Falcons Date/Time: Sunday, January 20th, 3:00 p.m. (ET)
49ers vs. Falcons On TV: FOX
Key #1: Vernon Davis has to be a factor for the Niners
We know that the 49ers have been a remarkable team all year long, and they put up an outstanding effort against the Green Bay Packers last week. However, if there has been a knock on QB Colin Kaepernick, it is that he just hasn’t really figured out how to get a great rapport consistently with any of his receivers. Last week, the Falcons were just destroyed by TE Zach Miller, who finished the day with eight receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown. Miller isn’t the only tight end this year to light up the Falcons. Five tight ends since November 29th have put up at least 50 receiving yards against this Atlanta defense. Davis was expected to have a heck of a season, but he only had 41 receptions for 548 yards with five TDs. He also had just one catch against the Packers, but it did go for 44 yards. That now gives Davis just seven receptions in his last seven games dating back to Week 12 against the New Orleans Saints. If Davis isn’t going to be able to figure out how to get the job done, Kaepernick might have a tough time trying to get together with his receivers. Only WR Michael Crabtree had more than two receptions against Green Bay, and with DB Asante Samuel matched up with Crabtree all day on Sunday, someone else will have to step it up. Davis is the perfect man to do just that.

49ers @ Falcons Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
San Francisco 49ers -3.5
Atlanta Falcons +3.5
Over/Under 47
Click Here to Bet Your 49ers vs. Falcons Picks!

 

Key #2: The Falcons have to get some pressure on Colin Kaepernick
DE John Abraham spent most of the game on the sidelines with an ankle injury in the Divisional playoff game, and as a result, QB Russell Wilson was able to run all over the field. Wilson finished with 385 passing yards and 60 rushing yards, and a lot of what he created over the course of the game came on the move. QB Colin Kaepernick has proven that he has ice water in his veins, and he isn’t going to be worried about playing on the road in this situation. He beat the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints on the road in the regular season, and in his first playoff start, he rebounded from throwing a pick six on the first drive of the game by rushing for 181 yards and two TDs and throwing for 263 yards and two TDs. Atlanta did get two sacks on Wilson, but that just wasn’t good enough, especially in the second half. With Abraham certainly in doubt for this coming week’s game, someone else is going to need to get into the backfield and force Kaepernick to throw the ball, because if he gets on the run like Wilson successfully did time and time again on Sunday, it is going to be a long day for this defense.

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Key #3: Atlanta absolutely has to run the football
Sure, you can pick on what the Falcons had done in the past in the playoffs and you can say that QB Matt Ryan and Head Coach Mike Smith had never won a playoff game since coming to Atlanta. However, the real NFL expert handicappers that disliked the Falcons did so because they didn’t run the ball well all season long, and they really didn’t play great defense. In the first half against the Seahawks, they did both of those items. They held twice on defense in the red zone, and they rushed the ball for 133 yards. In the second half, they allowed three touchdowns on the first three drives of the half on defense, and they only rushed for 34 yards. Needless to say, with as close as the Seahawks came to winning on Sunday, the Falcons are lucky to be here. If they don’t find a way to run the ball against a San Francisco defense that allowed just 94.2 yards per game this year on the ground, this game won’t be even close, as Matty Ice proved last week that he probably isn’t winning the NFC by himself without the help of RB Jacquizz Rodgers and RB Michael Turner.

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots NFL Playoff Predictions 1/13

January 13th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on Houston Texans @ New England Patriots NFL Playoff Predictions 1/13
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Tom BradyOur 2013 NFL playoffs predictions continue on Sunday, January 13th with the Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots. We are set to make our Texans vs. Patriots predictions, tips, and keys to the game for this crucial duel in the Divisional round of the playoffs.

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#3 Houston Texans @ #2 New England Patriots
Texans vs. Patriots Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Texans vs. Patriots Date/Time: Sunday, January 13th, 4:30 p.m. (ET)
Texans vs. Patriots On TV: CBS

Key #1: Houston has to come to Gillette meaning business
We just can’t imagine that the Texans are going to come into this one the same way that they did the first time around. Everyone on the team was given a letterman jacket just before going up to Foxboro a month ago, and the club got the living heck beaten out of it. The lasting impression of that game was that the Patriots were playing the game against the Texans on Monday Night Football as all business, while Houston was really there overconfident in itself. This time though, it has to be 100% business for the Texans, who are playing in the biggest game in franchise history. This win would be the best thing that ever happened to the Texans in their 10-year history, but they can’t ultimately get caught up in the moment. This is just too big of a game to ultimately come up here thinking that it is going to be fun and games in Foxboro against a team that clearly is going to be taking this game as pure business.

Texans @ Patriots Odds at WagerWeb Sportsbook
Houston Texans +9.5
New England Patriots -9.5
Over/Under 48.5
Click Here to Bet Your Texans vs. Patriots Picks!

Key #2: The Patriots have to figure out how to slow down JJ Watt again
The Cincinnati Bengals just couldn’t do it last week. DE JJ Watt was remarkable against the Bengals, and though he only finished up with five tackles and a sack, he was all over the field and caused chaos for QB Andy Dalton and the gang. The Houston defense absolutely cannot play better than it did this past week, as it held the Bengals to just 198 yards of offense and kept them without a third down conversion. Of course, the catalyst of this team is Watt, and it really seems as though when he is non-existent, the defense is non-existent. When the Pats and the Texans played five weeks ago, Watt had just two tackles and two assists, but more importantly, he didn’t have a single sack, nor did he really get his hands on QB Tom Brady. The end result? Brady went 21-of-35 for 296 yards with four TDs and no picks. It is clear if Brady gets time to sit in the pocket and throw the football, he is going to pick any secondary in the league apart, especially against this Houston secondary that has been prone to giving up some big time plays.

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Key #3: Arian Foster can’t have an off day after a huge day against the Bengals
RB Arian Foster rushed for 140 yards on 32 carries against the Bengals in the Wild Card round of the postseason, and he is now the only player in the history of the league to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games. What was amazing is that Foster did that against a great defensive front, and he didn’t have a single carry for more than 17 yards on the day. Foster now has eight 100+ yard games this year. The team went 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS in those games. There were only four games in which he was held to 50 yards or fewer, and the team lost three of those four outings. In the one exception of a game against the Tennessee Titans, RB Justin Forsett rushed for 64 yards to pick up the slack. Of course, one of those games where Foster was held down came against these very same Patriots, as he had just 46 yards on 15 carries. He did score a touchdown on the day, but it wasn’t nearly good enough to get the job done. New England did finish the year ranked ninth in the NFL against the rush, but there were better defenses that Foster has run against in his career.

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