2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Wildcard Weekend Edition

Here we go NFL playoff time – and for the second consecutive year, Colin’s lifelong favorite team, the Los Angeles Rams, are in the post-season. The Rams goal and Colin’s goal are the same – run the table in the 2018 NFL post-season. Now if I am setting odds on who can run the table, I make Colin a slight favorite to go 11-0 over the Rams going 3-0. Oh man, you are thinking, Colin has lost his mind. Going 3-0 at true coin flip odds is a 12.5% chance of the Rams winning out and rough .05% chance of Colin going 11-0. And we know the Rams will be favored in at least one (divisional), and probably two (Super Bowl) of their games, giving them a bigger advantage. What you don’t know is that I received a visit from an old, crotchety 90 year Colin last week and he bestowed upon me “The Sports Almanac 2000-2030.” With that in hand, I am looking to begin a “Biff Tannen” run through the playoffs.

Let’s start it off with my ranking of the playoff teams, with current Super Bowl odds. For fun I dug around and found a historical team each 2018 NFL playoff most closely resembled. Full disclosure – I am holding a Saints (20-1) and a Texans (25-1) Super Bowl future.

1.New Orleans Saints (+225)

Historical Team: 2009 New Orleans Saints. This all about the lack of respect they are receiving heading into the playoffs – and not the eerie voodoo magic that the 2018 Saints and 2009 Saints both finished 13-3 and lost to the same exact teams (Bucs, Panthers and Cowboys). I remember that 2009 season, nobody gave them a chance to win the Super Bowl, despite being the #1 seed in the NFC. Everyone was in love the Cardinals and the Vikings that year. Sure, after dispatching the Cardinals and retiring Kurt Warner, they needed more voodoo magic to beat the Vikings and then needed “Hank Baskett” to happen to win the Super Bowl, but they got it done. They will be an incredibly tough out again and remember in current the “WWE” version of the NFL, everything is scripted – Brees v. Brady with Brees getting his second sounds like a winner.

2.Baltimore Ravens (+1600)

Historical Team: 2001 New England Patriots. Remember the 2001 Rams or the “greatest show on turf;” remember the 2001 Raiders, a team that set a bunch of offensive records. Probably not much, right? Because the Pats rode a terrific defense, great running game and moderately efficient passing game to a Super Bowl title. Sounds like the 2018 Ravens to me. Their toughest game will be this week with the Chargers. Get by that and we might see Lamar Jackson hoisting the MVP trophy after throwing for a Brady-esque 132 yards. After the week 16 game against the Chargers, I texted a friend, “Shh, I think this Ravens team is going to win the Super Bowl.” The “shh” part was hoping no one else would draw that same conclusion and the odds would remain in the +4000 range.

3.Chicago Bears (+1000)

Historical Team: 2003 Carolina Panthers. The 2003 Panthers team blew out an over-matched NFC East wild-card team (check), exposed a fraudulent Rams team in the Ed Dome (check) and completely shut down the Eagles in the NFC title game. Look there is no question the Bears can get to the NFC title game, but there it gets dicey, not sure they can beat the Saints in New Orleans. But I will say they have personnel to pull it off and they are a very dangerous team.

4.Kansas City Chiefs (+475)

Historical Team: 2001 St. Louis Rams. As good as this Chiefs offense is, don’t you feel like this team is going to fall a little short? Just like that 2001 Rams team. And just like that 2001 Rams, the Chiefs have a coach who doesn’t give two craps about anything but offense and that includes clock management, defense, special teams, game management, etc. That is going to get you beat in the playoffs, despite having superior talent. Furthermore, Mahomes has looked human at the end of close games, save for the answered prayer pass to Tyreek Hill against the Ravens, I go into playoffs with zero confidence he can lead a 4th quarter game winning drive. As it normally does, the NFL down to matchups, if the Chiefs get the Colts/Pats/Rams, they could win the Super Bowl. But if they end up with the Ravens in the divisional round, it’s one and done for them.

5.New England Patriots (+600)

Historical Team: 1992 Buffalo Bills. Besides the obvious “just fking go away already” parallels, that 1992 Bills team caught every break on their way to another royal ass beating in the Super Bowl. At what point does the NFL intervene and re-align the divisions so the Pats have some competition? I mean the AFC East is like the old BIG 8 after Oklahoma got hit with probation, Nebraska and the seven dwarfs. And what do we have? An inferior team that very well could have two home games to get to the Super Bowl. To be honest, when I was evaluating the playoff teams for a hedging opportunity, I threw the Pats out as a team to consider. Just like I did the 1992 Bills. I think this Pats team is done. Mark it down – your read it here first – Pats will not win the AFC East next year!

6.Los Angeles Rams (+600)

Historical Team: 2001 Chicago Bears. I am sure you don’t remember that 2001 Bears, in fact nobody does because despite posting a 13-3 regular season record, no one took them seriously. Sure enough the 2001 Bears were one and done with a 14 point loss in the divisional round. Again, the Rams are my team and while I admit I am a pessimistic fan, this team has some serious problems, most notably at QB. After watching Jared Goff mis-fire for the last month, I have returned to my pre-season feeling that the Rams “missed a spot” when putting together the talent laden, high priced roster and that spot was at quarterback. Prove me wrong – JaGoff! I also threw the Rams out of hedging, as I strongly believe they are one and done.

7.Los Angeles Chargers (+600)

Historical Team: 2014 Cincinnati Bengals. The 2014 Bengals were 8-3-1 heading into December, holding a 1.5 game lead over the Steelers, they preceded to lose twice to the Steelers, thus fumbling away the division and putting them into a horrible wild-card weekend matchup with the Colts. Buh-bye. I strongly considered adding a Chargers future, but the matchup with the Ravens is so grossly bad that I cannot see them getting out of wildcard weekend.

8.Dallas Cowboys (+3000)

Historical Team: 2015 Minnesota Vikings. I personally think the Cowboys can win this weekend, unlike the 2015 Vikings, but the parallels between the teams are striking. Play great defense and play a bunch of close games. When those close games break their way, they get win a division, but no one really takes them seriously as evidence by the 30-1 odds. Dak simply cannot do enough to make a deep playoff run.

9.Seattle Seahawks (+3000)

Historical Team: 2012 Indianapolis Colts. Much like the 2012 Colts, the Seahawks got off to a rough start (4-5) and had a division rival run away with the division early, relegating the Hawks to playing for a wild-card. They will be a tough out, but like the 2012 Colts team, no way they win three road games and then beat the AFC team in the Super Bowl – too many flaws, including the fatal flaw of being a terrible road team.

10.Indianapolis Colts (+2800)

Historical Team: 1994 Green Bay Packers. There is a lot to like about this Colts going forward – Luck is back, very good coach and a young fast, super aggressive defense

11.Philadelphia Eagles (+3500)

Historical Team: 2000 St. Louis Rams. Let’s be honest this Eagles got lucky to be in the playoffs, just like that 2000 Rams team. And just like that Rams team, the mediots are pumping the Eagles like a true threat to run the table. Well, let’s remember what to that 2000 Rams team. They got owned for three quarters by the upstart Saints team lead by second year quarterback Aaron Brooks and an above average defense. If not for a future HOFer playing quarterback, there is no doubt they would have lost that game by three touchdowns. But Kurt Warner lead the Rams back to within three and the sad-sack Rams defense forced a punt late in the 4th quarter. Here we go, the Rams are heading to New York to play a horribly, over-rated Giants team. Of course, it was at that point that “Az Hakim” happened, who fumbled the punt and the game away. Ironically, the Eagles were the benefactors of another Rams fumbled punt in their week 15 matchup. As a Rams fan, I would to see the Eagles in the NFC championship, that tells you how much I think of them.

12.Houston Texans (+2800)

Historical Team: 2008 Miami Dolphins. I could have picked either of those fraudulent Dolphins division champs (2000, 2008). There was no bigger fan of Dolphins those years than the Ravens, likewise the is no bigger fan of the Texans this year than the Colts. And if the Texans were able to beat the Colts, the Pats will be not only giddy, but relieved to get essentially another bye week in the divisional round. Zero chance.

Geaux Saints!

Some wildcard weekend notes:

  • This year marks the third straight year that all four home teams (higher seeds) are favored. The home teams are 6-2 SU and 4-4 ATS.
  • Since 2013, home teams are just 10-10 SU and 8-10-2 ATS.
  • Since 2002, home teams giving less than 3 points are just 2-6 SU and a dreadful 0-7-1 ATS. Cowboys, Texans and Ravens fall into that category this weekend.
  • Since 2002, home teams are 36-28 SU and 29-32-3 ATS

I compiled a list of playoffs rules that I use as a guide for making my “holy grail” run to 11-0, you can read them here.

The back of Colin’s player card:

Note: Lines are courtesy of 5dimes.eu

Colts @ Texans (-1.5, 48.5)

This seems like the easiest game of the week – Indianapolis all day. My main concerns are 1. Luck throwing a ridiculous interception that turns momentum to the Texans; and 2. The fact the world seems to be on the Texans, and the only thing worse than being on the side of the public is being on the side of the public underdog.

I cannot do much about #2 above, the heart wants what the heart wants. As for #1, I witnessed a horrible Luck turnover, which was returned for 6 and put the Titans right back in the game. They still throttled the Titans.

Colts 31 Texans 27

Seahawks @ Cowboys (-2.5, 43.5)

Here we have mirror image teams. What is the difference? For starters, the Cowboys are at home. Their defensive front seven should eat all day against a very mediocre Seattle offensive line and they will be able to move the ball on the ground themselves. Biggest concern is Russell Wilson doing, well, Russell Wilson things. Yeah, that could be the difference, and I am giving up the coaching matchup as well, but I will gamble the Cowboys linebackers are fast enough to keep Russ contained.

Cowboys 24 Seahawks 16

Chargers @ Ravens (-3, 41.5)

I really like this Chargers team and I feel like if these two teams were on opposite sides of the bracket, they very well could meet in the Super Bowl. But unfortunately for the Chargers the draw this terrible matchup against the Ravens. The Ravens will have success running the ball and will harass Phillip all day. While I think this game will be close, I can easily see it getting out of -hand in favor of the Ravens.

Ravens 23 Chargers 13

Eagles @ Bears (-6.5, 41.5)

Props to HBO for re-running the entire series of the Sopranos over the next week. I plan to record all episodes and plow through them over the next month (get ready for a barrage of Pauly Walnuts comments). I remember the last episode of the Sopranos like it was yesterday – fade to black it was gone, forever – the next day I was moderately depressed about not having the show in my life. It’s been long enough where many of the episodes will seem brand new, so it’s like I get to watch the most amazing show ever as though I have never seen it before. That is awesome!

You know what else has been missing, albeit for only a year, and will great to have back – pessimistic Eagles fans, bitching and moaning about their team. It’s like hitting a daily double next week – Sopranos and miserable Eagles fans all back in the same week.

Bears 27 Eagles 10

Good luck to all!

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