Matty Football Challenge: Playoffs Week 1

Finally after months of pre-season preparation and 17 long regular season weeks, we arrive at the playoffs. The riff-raff is out and the real-deals are pushing on, for hopefully another 4 weeks of football.

We finished the year 128-127 and thus a winning season. Hey it might not sound like much but a win’s a win folks.

4 wildcard games kick off week 1 of the playoffs so come Monday we are done to the final 8.

Cardinals @ Panthers (-5.5) ESPN Sunday 8.35

The least exciting of the 4 wildcard games kicks off Sunday morning in Carolina. The Panthers won the NFC South with a losing record, just as the Seahawks did 3 seasons ago and knocked off the more fancied Saints at home. More good news for Panthers fans this week, with Drew Stanton not coming up from his injured knee and 3rd string QB Ryan Lindley once again suiting up.  Lindley was hopeless in his first two games but improved last week against a tough Niners defense in San Francisco.

I like the Panthers here, even though their losing record looks ugly on paper, they had one of the hardest schedules which included playing 6 playoff teams in the first 8 weeks. They got some relief down the stretch and reeled off 4 straight wins to give them a home playoff game.

Cam Newton is playing great football the past few weeks and even though he has a stack of haters out there, surely he gets some credit for the way he’s battled through the year carrying rib and back injuries, recovering from a nasty car crash a month ago and having the ability to pick this team up when they looked down and out, leading them to the playoffs and in all honesty saving the job of Ron Rivera. Panthers by 14…

Interesting Stat: Carolina has lost its last two games against Arizona

Interesting Stat: Arizona QB Ryan Lindley is a career 1-5 and ranks last in league QB’s for TD-INT ratio, completion % and passer rating the last 3 weeks. Yikes!!

Interesting Stat: Teams that finish .500 or worse during the regular season have won 5 of their last 6 wildcard games.

Ravens @ Steelers (-3) ESPN Sunday 12.15

This game looked a Slam Dunk for the Steelers until RB Le’veon Bell copped a nasty hit to his knee and is questionable for Saturday night. He has hyper-extended it and it’s badly bruised with pro bettors not expecting him to play and if he does only for a few snaps. The Steelers come into this game in flying form, winning their last 4 and mostly behind the play of the their two stars, Roethlisberger and Bell. They hate the Ravens and have a great record against them including the big win in November when Roethlisberger threw a career best 6 TD’S.

On the other side of the ball the Ravens are also in good form. They come in winning 5 of their last 7 and get Haloti Ngata back from a 4 week drug suspension which is huge for this Ravens defense which has struggled at times during the season. The secondary has been atrocious, mostly due to injuries and I see Big Ben throwing for a couple more touchdowns on Saturday.

Expect a low scoring grind in wet weather, with the Steelers winning by a touchdown.

Interesting Stat: The Steelers have won the last 3 post season games at home against the Ravens.

Interesting Stat: Steelers are 5-1 against winning teams this season. Ravens are 1-5.

Bengals @ Colts (-3.5) ESPN Monday 8.35

Yuck!! Two teams that aren’t really my cup of tea. The Colts are frauds and can’t be taken seriously. The Bengals are extremely streaky and are coming off a short week and travelling for the second time in 6 days. I’m going with the Colts mainly for the reasons just stated and that other pesky reason. What is it again?? Oh yeah…the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990!! Marvin Lewis is a very good coach but his numbers are barely passable. He’s a .500 coach over his 12 year reign in Cincinnati and if he doesn’t win it might be time for him to leave.

The Colts have stumbled down the finishing line and after an ugly loss to Dallas in Texas, returned to winning ways against a horrible Tennessee team. They will have to be wary of the Bengals’ heavy running game but I think they control Dalton and win. Just. But it will be close. Too close to bet on that’s for sure.

Interesting Stat: The Colts are an NFL best 18-6 at home against the spread over the past 3 seasons.

Interesting Stat: The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990.

Interesting Stat: Andy Dalton has lost all 3 playoff games he’s played in, throwing just 1 touchdown and 6 interceptions in those games.

Detroit (+7.5) @ Dallas ESPN Monday 12.15

I’ve gone back and forth on this one, but I’m leaning towards an upset in Texas. Suh getting off his appeal has helped me swing back to the Lions but also the injury to DT Henry Melton and with Doug Free not practicing this week,  I’m a little worried about the Cowboys’ pass rush. With Stafford a genuine gunslinger with really good weapons on the outside in Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson, the Cowboys could have their hands full on defense.

The Cowboys are hot and have impressed me all year, but there’s this voice in the back of my head nagging at me, reminding me that this is the Cowboys and they will screw this up sooner or later.

I expect the Lions rushing defense, which leads the league in yards allowed, to do something  most other teams haven’t been able to do, stop DeMarco Murray.

I’m taking the Lions with points..

Interesting Stat:  Dallas is 1-6 in its last 7 playoff appearances since 1998.

Interesting Stat: Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991 going 0-6 since then.

Interesting Stat: Dallas is 9-15 against the spread at home the last 3 seasons.

Last Week: 7-9

Season 128-127

Good Luck!!

About Matthew Proctor

As a fan of American Football and gambling this is a wonderful time of year. Working for a large European betting firm for years covering NFL and College football I was lucky enough to go head to head with some of the planets best football gamblers. Each week I’ll do my best to tip you a winner but more importantly give you vital information for each game before putting down a wager.
Good Luck and Good Punting!!

Comments

  1. John Harms says:

    That’s exactly how I’d interpret the stats Matty.

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