Matty Football Challenge: Week 2 Playoffs

A pretty good start to the playoffs last week, with two really good games in Pittsburgh and Dallas, and couple of duds in Carolina and Indy. This week we get our first look at the No. 1 seeds who had the bye last week and were able to give some much needed rest to some banged up bodies.

Teams coming off a bye are 70-26 since 1990 but only 19-13 since 2006. There has been a stack of money this week for all four underdogs which doesn’t surprise me as the four top seeds do have weaknesses that can be exposed.

Our pockets are filled up and ready to go after a 3-1 opening to the playoffs and let’s hope we go one better this week.

Ravens (+7.5) @ Patriots ESPN Sunday 8.35

Tricky game to kick the weekend off, with the Ravens heading to Foxborough after surprising a few in beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh. You must remember the Ravens beat a Steelers team missing Le’Vean Bell, maybe the best dual back in the league. Without him the Steelers were one dimensional and their offense never got going, which made the Ravens win not as good as it looked.

I still like them to cover because I think they match up well with the Pats who hardly set the world on fire late in the season with close wins against the Chargers and Jets and then a loss against the Bills at home after Belichick gave everyone the day off. The rust factor worries me with Gronk, Brady, Edelman and co having hardly played since Week 16 and the Ravens pass defense looking like the feared defense of the 2012 season when they won the Super Bowl.

Look for Brady to throw the ball a lot against that atrocious secondary the Ravens have, but I expect Flacco and the Ravens to stick with them but ultimately lose by a field goal.

Interesting Stat: New England is 8-3 all time against Baltimore but 2 of those 3 losses came in playoff games.

Interesting Stat:  Ravens QB Joe Flacco is 10-4 in playoffs. Tom Brady is 18-8. These 2 guys don’t lose often in crunch time.

Panthers @ Seahawks (-10.5) ESPN Sunday 12.15

The way the Panthers have played over the last month has been admirable. They took advantage of playing in the worst division in NFL history, finished the season with a losing record and booked themselves a home playoff game against a team playing with their 3rd string QB. Fun-time ends here for the Panthers. I can’t see how you can go into Seattle and have a shot against one of the best defenses of the modern era and be able to put points on the board when you only beat the Cardinals at home by 11.

The Seahawks also get five important players back from injury including veteran center Max Unger who is vitally important on that offensive line. The only negative would be the injury to DT Jordan Hill who was flying late in the season, getting 5.5 sacks in his last 6 games. He re-injured a calf at training this week and is done for the season.

The loss of Hill is probably offset by the loss of one of Carolina’s best defensive lineman in Star Lotulelei who would have been responsible for stopping the run of Marshawn Lynch. With him gone expect Lynch and the Seahawks to have a big one. Seahawks by 21.

Interesting Stat: The Seahawks are 24-2 at home since 2012.

Interesting Stat: Teams are 45-360 since 2012 (11% win) when they score 17 points or less in a game. Three of those 45 wins have come from the Seahawks against the Panthers.

Interesting Stat: The Seahawks have not allowed a point in the 4th quarter in their last 6 games. All wins.

Interesting Stat: The Seahawks are 5-2 lifetime against the Panthers.

Cowboys (+6.5) @ Packers ESPN Monday 5.00

The best home team in the league takes on the best road team in the league. A lot of money has come for the Cowboys since reports surfaced Aaron Rodgers has a slight tear in his calf and hasn’t trained all week. That means trouble for the Packers who already have a suspect defense but have been able to offset it with Aaron Rodgers putting up ridiculous numbers on offense.

The Cowboys also have injury trouble but on the other side of the ball, with Carter and Hitchens struggling with various ailments and McClain and Mincey struggling with concussion.

If it does get into a shootout I favour the Cowboys with Romo fully fit but more importantly MVP candidate DeMarco Murray rumbling up the field against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league. I think after a couple of subdued games of sub 100 yards, Murray gets 30 carries and runs for 180+.

Look for the Packers to air it out early and test the below average Dallas secondary. With freezing weather expected, Rodgers might want to throw long early before his calf tightens up in the frigid weather.

I think the Cowboys are built for cold weather football and upset the Packers in Lambeau.

Interesting Stat: Aaron Rodgers is 5-4 in playoff games which he has started.

Interesting Stat: The Cowboys are 8-0 on the road. The Packers are 8-0 at home. Something has to give.

Interesting Stat: The Cowboys have lost their last 6 road playoff games with their last win coming in 1992.

Colts @ Broncos (-7) ESPN 8.40 Monday

Really keen on the Broncos here. In fact I think they can win the Super Bowl. I know Manning isn’t what he was and yes the defense can give up a stack of points, but I like the way the draw has fallen for them and the fact the Super Bowl is in Arizona means one of the best warm weather QB’S in the history of the game will have his best shot yet to win a second ring. Gotta take care of business first. The Colts should be a walk in the park for the Broncos at home. I’ve said it all season that this Colts team isn’t much good. The O-Line and D-Line are banged up and are below average. Since Ahmad Bradshaw went down, their running game is nonexistent and if it wasn’t for Andrew Luck and their soft division they wouldn’t be anywhere near the playoffs.

Look for the Broncos to run the ball a ton and Peyton Manning to get sweet revenge on his old Colts. Denver win in a high scoring game.

Interesting Stat: Since Peyton Manning arrived in Denver, he is 2-2 in playoff games.

Interesting Stat: The Broncos are 12-0 when they  get 88 or more rushing yards. Broncos RB C.J Anderson has more yards than any other RB in the league over the last 6 weeks averaging 108 yards a game.

Week 1 Playoffs: 3-1

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!!

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