Playoffs! Here we go, the road to Indianapolis. And it all starts with Wildcard weekend. Yeah, it sucks that the Eagles aren’t playing but I’ve already gone through the five stages of grief…
Denial — “No way. We’re 2-4? Yeah, but we can still get back in it. This isn’t over.” See my Week 7 post.
- Anger — “Fire Andy, Fire Juan, this team sucks. Blow it up.”
- Bargaining — “I don’t care, just make the playoffs. Even at 8-8 it’s better than nothing.”
- Depression — “I can’t believe we just lost to the Cardinals and the Seahawks. WTF?”
- Acceptance — “We really weren’t good enough, and it’s all about next year anyway. We’re built to win it all in 2012.”
I’ve ridden the roller-coaster this season with everyone else. And now I’ve put it all in the past. Andy is coming back (#TEAMANDY). But Juan? Not so sure yet. But who cares. It’s time to focus on the post-season and make some money (I don’t know why I wrote that, this is for amusement purposes only).
We ended the regular season at 23-17 (57.5%) with our picks. Not too bad. We had two rough patches, five straight losses from Week 8 to Week 10 (ouch), and 0-3 in Week 13 (unlucky 13, a.k.a Seahawks week) but overall it was a decent season, and I had fun doing it. Our 9-4 record on Monday Nights was nice.
Wildcard Bet #1: (a.k.a the “Hey look, Andre Johnson is back” bet): Houston Texans -3 over Cincinnati Bengals
I know, I know… TJ Yates. I’ve written before that “TJ Yates is not a big game QB” but this is more about his weapons than about TJ Yates himself. And yes, it’s a big game, but c’mon, it’s a home game against the Bengals.
Andre Johnson is back this week for the Texans and when he is on his game Andre Johnson is the best WR in football. And all indications are that he is 100% and ready to go. That is a huge addition for the Texans. They are going up against the Bengals and these teams already met back in Week 14 at Cincy and the Texans (led by TJ Yates) beat the Bengals 20-19.
Cincinnati is coming in at 3-5 in their last 8 games, and those 3 wins? St Louis, Arizona and Cleveland. The Bengals backed into the playoffs, losing to the Ravens in Week 17 but getting in only because the Jets and Broncos also lost. Cincinnati is 0-7 vs. playoff teams (Steelers, Ravens, Texans, 49ers, Broncos).
Bengals come in with the 17th ranked defense (18th vs. pass, 16th vs. rush), so the Texans should be able to move the ball with a combination of Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Yeah, TJ Yates is the wildcard, but on the other side of the ball do you think rookie Andy Dalton is that much better? Dalton is battling the flu this week, but he should play.
Texans offense has struggled since Matt Schaub went down but remember that Andre Johnson was also hurt for most of the season. He comes back this week and I think that is the difference. Add in Arian Foster’s running and I think the Texans have enough on offense to get it done.
The Bengals offense is led by a rookie QB, throwing to a rookie WR (AJ Green) and Houstons defense is actually pretty good, 8th overall (7th vs. rush, 6th vs. pass). So the Texans should be able to control the Bengals and Houstons top DB Jonathan Joseph is healthy this week and should be able to neutralize AJ Green.
Andy Dalton has struggled in his last seven games, 54% completion rate, only eight TD’s and eight interceptions. And now he has to go on the road, into a loud stadium and improve his game against a pretty good pass defense. Ok, good luck with that.
I am aware that the Texans are riding a 3 game losing streak, with a loss to the Colts thrown in there. But they should be ready at home to win their first playoff game in franchise history this weekend.
How about Andre Johnson makes a big splash in his return, the Bengals get shut down on offense and the Texans move onto the 2nd round (where they will probably lose). I’ll say Houston wins 27-10.
The Line: Texans -3 O/U 38
The Pick: Texans -3
Game trends (via Covers.com): Texans 7-3-1 last 10 as home favorite, Bengals 6-1-2 ATS last 9 on the road.
Here are some prop bets to consider for the weekend:
Team To Score Most Points On Wild Card Weekend
Cincinnati Bengals +2000
Denver Broncos +4000
Atlanta Falcons +400
New York Giants +200
Detroit Lions +250
New Orleans Saints -200
Pittsburgh Steelers +700
Houston Texans +1200
Gotta be the Saints right? But no value in -200. If I was taking a longshot maybe the Steelers at +700?
Most Passing Yards On Wild Card Weekend
Andy Dalton (Bengals) +1500
Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) +900
Drew Brees (Saints) Ev
Eli Manning (Giants) +350
Matt Ryan (Falcons) +600
Matthew Stafford (Lions) +150
TJ Yates (Texans) +1200
Tim Tebow (Broncos) +2500
Throw out Tebow, he may not break 100 yards passing, and there is no value with Brees or Stafford. I might take a shot with Matt Ryan at +600. He’s going to have to throw alot and he has the weapons.
Most Rushing Yards On Wild Card Weekend
Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants) +550
Arian Foster (Texans) +450
Cedric Benson (Bengals) +450
Chris Ivory (Saints) +600
Isaac Redman (Steelers) +450
Kevin Smith (Lions) +900
Michael Turner (Falcons) +250
Willis Mcgahee (Broncos) +250
I like Arian Foster at +450. I think the Texans mix it up this weekend and they will use Foster more when they need to sit on a late lead.
Most Receiving Yards On Wild Card Weekend
Aj Green (Bengals) +500
Andre Johnson (Texans) +700
Calvin Johnson (Lions) +200
Demaryius Thomas (Broncos) +1000
Hakeen Nicks (Giants) +500
Julio Jones (Falcons) +700
Marques Colston (Saints) +700
Mike Wallace (Steelers) +700
Roddy White (Falcons) +275
Victor Cruz (Giants) +275
I like Matt Ryan for most passing yards and I think Julio Jones at +700 is a good value for most receiving yards. Jones has speed and he is coming off a huge week last week. The Giants will probably key on Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez so maybe Jones can do it. As for another longshot, Andre Johnson is +700? If he is on his game he could be worth a shot.
Maybe a mix of Arian Foster (+450) for most rushing yards and Andre Johnson (+700) for Most Passing Yards could put you in a nice spot to cash one of the bets.
Good luck this weekend.
Sixers home opener tonight!! #ShowYaLuv
Regular Season Final Record: 23-17. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.
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